Thank You, ANCA

Last night was the 2010 Inaugural International Naturally Autistic Awards ceremony, held in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was the first time that the ANCA Foundation had opened up its Naturally Autistic event to those outside of Canada, hence why it was an inaugural event. And ANCA, its supporters, and the award recipients made history last night.

The honorees at last night’s ceremony, both in the adult and child categories, did the Autistic Community PROUD. With autism, the focus has oftentimes been on our limitations, and this has sometimes given rise to assumptions and myths that we cannot create artistic works of value. The winners of this year’s awards stand as a testament that those assumptions and myths are wrong.

Here is the list of last night’s winners, courtesy of Blog Talk Radio show host Scott Jackson:

  • Adult Visual Painting Arts: Maria lliou, Long Island, New York, USA
  • International Literary Award: Nicole Nicholson, Columbus, Ohio USA
  •  Performing Arts: Scott Siegel, California, USA
  • (Children) Performing Arts Award: Gina Marie Incandela, Florida, USA
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts & Visual Arts Awards: Kristie Dix, Australia
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts Award: Michael van Houten, B.C., Canada
  • Arts Award: Dani Bowan, California, USA
  • Award in Theatre: Tammy Australia
  • Mentor Award: Tim Mueller of Autism Rocks in Eugene, Oregon, USA
  • Achievement Award: Joel Anderson, California , USA
  • Community Leadership International Award: Debbie Mkye, Queensland, Australia

Yes, you read the list right – I won an award in the Adult International Literary category, for a collection of poems that I submitted in mid-July to the foundation entitled “Novena”.

I am honored and happy to be among such talented, professional, and exceptional individuals as the above honorees at last night’s awards. Unfortunately, my fiance and I were unable to attend the ceremony – however, at the request of ANCA founders Leonora Gregory-Collura and Charlie Collura I sent in a pre-recorded acceptance speech as well as a pre-recorded reading of a poem from the collection, “You Don’t See It”. Both videos were played during last night’s ceremony; they are embedded into this post below.


(You can read the original poem on this blog or Raven’s Wing Poetry.)

I also had the privilege to call into Ralph Watley’s KXBG show on Blog Talk Radio last night and speak to callers, Leonora, and the other award recipients and attendees of yesterday’s event remotely from my home: you can listen to the archived broadcast here. I was flabbergasted, honored, humbled, and touched by a lot of the responses I heard to my work – at one point, I was told that the video of “You Don’t See It” which was played at the ceremony moved people to tears, and Kelly Green of AutismHWY mentioned that my poems helped her understand what was going on in the mind of her own son, who is also autistic. This was probably one of the first times in my life that I really understood how poetry can reach people, and that I really felt that my work moved listeners. And for that, I feel truly happy and blessed.

Thank you’s go to Leonora, Charlie, and the rest of the ANCA Foundation for such a historic event and opportunity to recognize artistic talent of both adults and children on the autism spectrum. Also, Kelly Green and AutismHWY were instrumental in getting the word out about the awards, both during the art submission period (which is how I found out about them) and promoting and publicizing last night’s ceremony. Last night’s event was truly historic and significant, and I am honored to have been a part of it as an award recipient. Continued blessings to ANCA and all of its friends and supporters, as well as my fellow award winners. This upcoming year looks to be truly promising.



P.S. You can read last night’s program as a Uniflip document.