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Quesnel autism awareness fundraiser entering 10th year

Matthew and Laura Hender have spent the last decade raising funds for local charities

Blue pins will once again be worn across Quesnel to raise awareness for people with autism.

The annual campaign, organized by Matthew Hender and his mom Laura, is entering its tenth year. Proceeds from the pin sales will be going to the Child Development Centre this year.

“Giving people help in their early years is the most important time,” Matthew said, explaining why he chose the centre.

The infinity symbol on the 2022 pin design represents the possibility this is the final year for the fundraiser. The pins are a silver circle, with a ring of hearts and blue puzzle pieces surrounding the infinity symbol.

Both the puzzle piece and infinity symbol have been used as symbols of autism awareness.

“It’s about getting people to make less assumptions about people, because that’s something everyone does,” Matthew said.

“Thinking about more empathy. There’s more to it if someone’s being quiet or not responding to you. Think before you judge someone.”

READ MORE: Quesnel Special Olympics athlete shares workout

Laura thanked Hello Promotions for designing the pin, Granville’s for supplying the vouchers, and Big Country Printers for printing the vouchers.

“We did 800 pins last year, but the last hundred were a little bit tricky to sell, so we’re doing 700,” Laura said.

“I think a lot of that was around COVID, not a lot of people were out and about, so this year it might be better.”

The pins are $7 and come with a $5 voucher for Granville’s Coffee. They are for sale at Mama C’s, Ac&D Insurance, South Side Liquor Store and the Quesnel Post Office. Laura also does drop offs or pickups if messaged.

Her email is

“Also, a huge shout out to the whole community for 10 years of supporting us,” she said.

“We’ve raised close to $15,000 for local charities.”

Matthew, who is in his first year of post-secondary school to hopefully become a pharmacist, is also heavily involved in Quesnel Special Olympics.

Rick Prosk, a coach for special Olympics, said he first met Laura and Matthew through their pin fundraiser, noting when Matthew finally did join the program at age 14, he was a shy kid.

“Since then, he’s grown tremendously. He adds an important and essential viewpoint to his practice and training sessions, an insight that we wouldn’t otherwise have because so many athletes have difficulty with their thoughts and feelings,” Prosk said.

“As a coach, I appreciate his enthusiastic participation and know that Matthew is always ready with an idea of how to improve that participation for his fellow athletes.”

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