Bleachers hosts car show for autism awareness

Published on Sunday, 14 August 2022 16:40
Written by

Erica Drzewiecki

@drzewieckinbh

BRISTOL – Having a son with autism inspired city resident Lyndon McLellan to host a car show behind Bleachers Bar over the weekend.

His love of cars blended with his love for his son Riley, 12, were the catalysts to Puzzled Kustoms’ Inaugural Car & Bike Show Sunday. Proceeds from the event went to benefit the largest autism research organization in the U.S., Autism Speaks.

“We do a lot to raise awareness with the public,” McLellan explained. “A lot of people don’t understand what autism is. We have family members who still think Riley will just grow out of it and that’s not the case.”

People with autism spectrum disorders can have difficulties with communicating and social interaction. They may also have different and complex ways in which they learn and move.

“Riley is high functioning,” McLellan pointed out. “His problems are verbal….He’s an artist like you wouldn’t believe.”

The puzzle piece has been a symbol for autism for decades to raise awareness.

The McLellan family is typically joined by over 100 people on a team for the Autism Speaks Walk that takes place every year at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

Bleachers’ General Manager Marybeth “MB” Pirro is one of them and she helped organize Sunday’s benefit show.

“Lyndon used to have this show at his house and he asked me if we could do it here and expand it,” Pirro said. “I said that would be awesome.”

Their plan is to make the show an annual event.

“Hopefully bigger and better next year,” McLellan said.

Heavy Hitter Mafia, a clothing and accessory company based out of New Britain, had a booth there.

Owner Joe Robidoux’s fiance Ashley Lockery stood behind their table, representing the company.

“This is our friends’ car show to support autism awareness and we’re just out here supporting him and supporting autism,” she said.

Berlin resident Cheryl D. presented a booth representing One Hope, which donates 10% of sales to the associate’s charity of choice. In this case, that was Autism Speaks.

“One of our friends’ sons has it (autism) so we decided to have a booth,” she said.

Riley’s dad, his mom Christal and his brother Austin all wore Puzzled Kustoms t-shirts along with Pirro and many other attendees.

Some of the shirts featured designs from Riley’s sketchbook.

“Every person in my house understands when Riley is running around flapping his arms,” McLellan said. “It’s not him misbehaving; it’s a function of his autism.”

Behaviors like this are not generally understood among those unfamiliar with autism. Communicating can be difficult for people who have autism, which is why raising awareness was crucial to the McLellan family and supporters of Sunday’s car show. Their hope is to spread knowledge and make the world a better place for people with autism and their families.

The not-for-profit Autism Speaks supports research studies, caregiver training, outreach and advocacy.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at edrzewiecki@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News on Sunday, 14 August 2022 16:40. Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2022 16:43.