The American Legion Riders of Qulin (Missouri) presented the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment at Southeast’s Sikeston Campus a $1,000 donation. The donation will help support the center’s mission to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities and their family, caregivers and service providers throughout the southeast Missouri region.
The Qulin Legion Riders, represented by assistant director Dave Beutel and treasurer Robert Reif, Sr., presented the Center with the $1,000 check as part of their third annual Autism Run. The run was organized by Steve “Jigsaw” Launer in honor of his grandson, Kendrick Meppiel, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and received early intervention services as a young boy in Cape Girardeau.
Dr. Renee’ Patrick, director of Southeast’s Autism Center, and Dr. Joe Pujol, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Studies, accepted the donation on behalf of the University.
“We are honored and grateful to the Legion Riders’ continued support,” Patrick said. “The funds will be used to help children with autism access services or supports based on their individual needs.”
Because of support from family, specifically Kendrick’s grandfather “Jigsaw,” and the services like those available at Southeast’s Autism Center, her son has been able to thrive, said Brittany Meppiel.
“‘Jigsaw’ was my rock in the early years after Kendrick was diagnosed – and despite our family’s health care provider giving Kendrick a poor prognosis as a young child, he is currently enrolled in accelerated, advanced mathematics courses,” she said. Kendrick also has well developed language skills. “This is because of the support from his grandfather and the intensive therapies he has received over the years.”
Jigsaw passed away shortly after the Rider’s 2021 Autism Run, but other family members at the donation ceremony included Nick Meppiel, Kendrick’s brother Kurtis, sister Caitlynn, grandmother Jouanna Meppiel, and cousin Arizona Freeman.
The Legion Riders’ donation will help support the Center’s programming and services. The Sikeston location helps meet a growing demand in the region for autism services without having to travel to Cape Girardeau, where the University’s main Autism Center is located at 611 N. Fountain Street.
The Sikeston facility provides early intensive intervention services through the Center’s Building Blocks Program for young children ages 2-5 who have significant need for applied behavioral analytic programming; Speech Language Pathology using a push-in service for Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) communication device users; and diagnostic evaluations for individuals seeking diagnostic clarification of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
For more information, contact the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment at (573) 986-4985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.