Anyone who knows HFA member Randy Coconis of Coconis Furniture and his family knows their passion for bringing awareness and support to autism.
That passion was never more on display than this summer when Shannon Coconis, Randy’s daughter, received a state award for her work with helping families with autism. A month later the family’s 10th annual “Tee It Up Fore Autism” golf tournament in Zanesville, Ohio, raised more than $70,000 for the National Autism Association.
Shannon Coconis, who works part-time for her father at the family business, gave birth to a son in 2003. In 2008, her son was diagnosed with autism. Shannon and her husband, Chad, went to a doctor who was treating children with autism. “We had a lot of success,” Coconis said. “After we saw the improvements in our own child, we really wanted a way for other kids in this area to have services.”
Shannon Coconis said that in Perry County, Ohio, where she lives, some parents are unaware of the services and treatment a child with autism can go through that can mitigate a child’s autism. That drove her to form the National Autism Association of Southeast Ohio, which is a chapter of the National Autism Association. Chad Coconis is the treasurer of the organization
“Their views really aligned with ours,” Coconis stated. “They believed that you can reverse autism and that with the right treatments, kids can get better.”
Coconis started the National Autism Association chapter to raise funds for families that need help treating autism. Over the chapter’s existence, the local association has raised over $250,000 for kids who are on the spectrum and who need funds for treatment.
Then there’s the golf tournament. Over the past 10 years the “Tee It Up Fore Autism” event has been held, the NAASEO has raised over $500,000.
More than 140 golfers and another 40 manufacturer’s and representatives came together to make the event the most successful since the tournament began in 2009. Proceeds from the outing benefit the National Autism Association of Southeast Ohio, a local chapter of the National Autism Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.
Mark McMillian, who played in the NFL for eight years, was the keynote speaker. Featured guests were local families that have been helped by NAASEO. 90% of funds raised remain in southeast Ohio and are used toward the Family Grants programs. Two new grants were created this year, the Michael Krinsky Adult Services Grant, given to adults with Autism who need help with services or transportation to a job, and the Autism Sibling Scholarship, given to a graduating senior who has a sibling with Autism.
HFA members lend a hand
Fellow HFA members Sheely’s Furniture and Ashley Furniture Industries also helped sponsor the event.
“This is the best and most rewarding thing we do,” said Randy Coconis. “I have seen firsthand how getting the kids and families the proper help and therapy at an early age can make a huge difference in their lives. When parents say “thank you” with tears in their eyes, you know you are doing something right.”