OUCARES receives $1 million donation from Ted Lindsay Foundation

The Ted Lindsay Foundation has made a $1 million donation to Oakland University’s Center for Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES).

The foundation was established in 2001 by Ted Lindsay and John Czarnecki. Lindsay is a former Red Wings hockey player. Now 93 years old, he has a passion for supporting research and education for people with autism.

Czarnecki, a close friend of the Lindsay family, has a son with autism and helped co-found the foundation.

OUCARES has now changed its name to Joanne and Ted Lindsay Foundation Autism Outreach Services at Oakland University, a decision that OUCARES Director Kristin Rohrbeck said was meant to commemorate the gift.

“OUCARES developed a great relationship with the foundation over the past few years,” Rohrbeck said. “We want to make sure that the kindness, caring and generosity of Joanne and Ted Lindsay, as well as the Ted Lindsay Foundation, will have a lasting presence at Oakland University.”

In addition to being an important staple on campus for students with autism, OUCARES also equips faculty with ways of improving these students’ learning experiences.

Throughout the year, OUCARES hosts events, like their recent Temple Grandin presentation, and offer camps and training to help students with autism and their families. Each year, they are responsible for placing 10–25 students in internships, or practicum training.

“The Ted Lindsay Foundation board was very impressed by the quality of programs we offer the autism community,” Rohrbeck said. “They also recognized the lack of programs for people with autism as they age, so they were looking to partner with an organization with a track record of successful programming for people with autism beyond early childhood.”

Rohrbeck called the donation from the Ted Lindsay Foundation a “game changer.” The center plans to use this money to offer scholarships and develop programs specifically for teens and young adults with autism.

“Most of the generous pledge will be going into an endowment so that their impact will be in perpetuity on our autism programming,” Rohrbeck said. “Programs that will be directly supported by the gift include recreational sports, social skills, employment readiness training, life skills programs and summer camps for teens and adults with autism, as well as parent supports for their families.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a number that is rapidly increasing. OUCARES provides services to more than 2,300 individuals directly affected by autism.

“I hope that our support will not only help individuals with autism to be more active socially in OUCARES programs, but that it will have a positive impact on the entire family of the person who is involved at OUCARES,” Lindsay said in a press release. “We know that autism doesn’t only impact individuals, it impacts parents, caregivers, siblings and many others who support the person with autism.”

The Joanne and Ted Lindsay Foundation Autism Outreach Services is located in room 425C of Pawley Hall. For information about support, education or donations, visit the OUCARES website.