SAN ANTONIO – Any Baby Can San Antonio, which serves thousands of families with children and youth facing serious health or developmental challenges, is getting ready to host its biggest fundraiser of the year.
Abby Ekmark’s son Rudy Alejos was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, when he was three-years-old. She says she found guidance at the nonprofit.
“The doctor who diagnosed him said if we were going to get any kind of help, Any Baby Can was the place to start,” Ekmark said.
Ekmark said she learned from other parents and was provided with several resources.
Then, her family’s lives changed in 2011. On August 16, Ekmark’s apartment building caught fire.
“I always made sure he was sleeping or somewhere before I would go outside and do anything. I just remembered opening the door and seeing a fire and trying to get us out and I couldn’t and he passed away,” Ekmark said.
Rudy was just six-years-old at the time.
The next few months were difficult, as Ekmark began recovering from burns all over her body. Although this was the hardest time of her life, she wanted to honor her son.
“I want to make something of his life. I want people to remember him. I came back to Any Baby Can,” Ekmark said.
Rudy was honored at the 8th Annual Walk for Autism with the creation of Rudy’s playground, an area where all kids can play.
Ekmark has since shared her story with other families.
“Since Abby has come forward and provided an eye opening experience for our families. We have changed a lot of what we have done to educate the families we have on safety,” Melanie Rios, director of programs at Any Baby Can San Antonio said.
The nonprofit and Abby didn’t want another family to suffer the same fate so they created training for community members about fire safety and information about other hazards.
They also put together a toolkit for the community.
Ekmark said she hopes to continue spreading her message on fire safety and sharing Rudy’s story at this year’s Walk for Autism.
The 19th Walk for Autism will be held on Saturday April 22 beginning at 8 a.m. at Palo Alto College. All proceeds go towards funding critical programs.
“If there is somebody watching at home and they have a child with Autism and are not involved with Any Baby Can or they were just recently diagnosed, just know that you are not alone,” Ekmark said.