Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Teamster magazine sneak peek: Local 25 raises $350K for autism charity

Liam Fitzgerald, 9, takes the stage at Light Up the Night Gala for Autism. 
Here's a story that's sure to touch Teamster hearts everywhere. Appearing in the upcoming issue of the Teamster magazine, an article on Local 25's annual gala for autism shows the softer side of the tough Beantown Teamsters. 

In the presence of Academy Award winners, smiling kids and blaring bagpipes, Local 25 held its 8th annual "Light Up the Night Gala for Autism" in March, raising $320,000 in donations to area non-profits helping kids and families dealing with autism. 

More from the Teamster magazine story:
“This gala is a success year after year because of everyone in this room,” said Local 25 President Sean O’Brien. “Everyone plays a role and because we work together we have been able to accomplish great things, like passing the landmark autism insurance legislation in Massachusetts and raising more than $2.5 million for charity.”
Among the audience: hundreds of labor members from Local 25 and beyond, plus Boston-area residents. The Boston Bruins’ mascot, Blades, fired up the crowd as the bagpipers played, and 9-year-old Liam Fitzgerald, also known as “The Fist Bump Kid,” joined the band to play the drums. 
“As we look to the future, we must tackle the housing shortage that exists for young adults with autism once they turn 22, and continue to work with charities like the Challengers Little League that lets kids forget about their challenges and just play the game of baseball,” O’Brien said.
Liam, the brave little Teamster recently named "Man of the Year" by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, took center stage at the gala and humbled Hollywood figures:
Five-time Academy Award-nominated writer and director David O. Russell was honored for his longtime efforts off-screen to raise national awareness of mental health issues, including as an advocate of the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which he helped introduce to Congress in 2013.
“I am honored to be up on stage with Liam Fitzgerald and Steve Mulcahy,” Russell said. “I am honored to be the father of my son. I’m an advocate for mental health rights. Making the film ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper helped bring awareness to mental illness. I want to thank all the members of Teamster Local 25, Sean O'Brien, Bill O’Brien, my driver and friend, Kevin Wright, and everyone for giving their support to help the cause for autism.”
Liam earned his nickname after a video of him fist bumping the Boston Bruins went viral, sparking the online campaign, #BumpOutCancer, which raised more than $150,000 in just 10 weeks. He has been cancer-free for three years.

Local 25's Autism Fund has raised more than $2.75 million for autism charities since 2007.

You can read more about the local's efforts at www.Teamsterslocal25autism.com, and check out the next issue of the Teamster magazine when it's up online at www.teamster.org/magazine.