Families and friends of loved ones with autism will now be able to show their support in a highly visible way, as the Autism Society announces that Louisiana drivers will now be able to purchase specially-issued autism awareness license plates.
A project two years in the making, Autism Society of SWLA member emeritus Geri Landry said the issuance of the license plates will serve as a major fundraiser for the organization, and that it could not have come at a better time.
“We have been in need of fundraisers since early last year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not been able to hold our conferences or any other events that we would normally throughout the year to raise funds, and that has definitely hurt us,” Landry told the American Press.
On Thursday, Landry herself received the very first Louisiana plate decorated with the signature autism puzzle-piece ribbon and displaying the autism society’s name beneath it.
Landry said the idea for the plates came after seeing the license plate program successful in other states, including Indiana. From there, Landry said she enlisted the help of Senator Ronnie Johns and state Autism Society chamber president Beryl Hebert in bringing the idea into reality.
“I was honored to be the author of the legislation for the specialty license plate for the Autism Society. The work this group does is truly extraordinary,” Sen. Johns told the American Press.
The plates may be purchased online through the Office of Motor Vehicles at the cost of $50 each, and applicants may request a specific license number for their personal car, truck or motorcycle.
Once the the first 1,000 plates have been ordered, the funds will be relased to the state Autism Society board, who will then distribute the funds across the local chapters. After that, royalty checks will be issued to the Autism Society each quarter.
Already, Landry said 75 plates have been reserved.
Landry said that the funds will be used locally to assist with information referrals to families seeking services for their loved one with autism.
“That is such an integral part of what we do; it’s incredibly important. When someone is in need of services, they often don’t know where to even start. We provide information online and through our 1-800 number that helps connect them with the services and professionals that can help them with their specific needs,” Landry stated.