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Marie-Ilene Whitehurst

 

Since her son’s diagnosis of autism over 23 years ago, Marie-Ilene has spearheaded and founded many important community events to raise funds and further awareness for disabilities.  She co-chaired the first Autism Speaks (formerly NAAR) Walk in 2000 and again for the 10th Anniversary Miami Dade Walk.  At Blue Lakes Elementary, she founded BLAST, a non-profit, parent support organization for the families in the autism programs. She has served on the Advisory Committee to the Dan Marino Foundation Child NETTV internet web channel. She developed SCORE, an annual free soccer clinic for children with autism in conjunction with an area private high school.   She was a founding member of the board of the Autism Society of America, Miami Dade Chapter.  In conjunction with the Leisure Access Program of Miami Dade County Department of Parks and Recreation, Marie-Ilene was instrumental in creating sports programs for children with autism.  She served 6 years on the University of Miami Center for Autism & Related Disabilities ( UMCARD) Parent Constituency Board committee and served as co-chair of the inaugural “Tropical Nights." their major annual fundraising event.   She and her husband co-chaired the 10th Anniversary Gala in 2013.  Presently Marie-Ilene is a member of the City of Coral Gables Advisory Board on Disability Affairs.

Most importantly she is the proud mother of Christina and Thomas.

Her awards include:

  • Autism Speaks-Miami Chapter Community Leadership Award

  • National Alliance for Autism Research Community Award

  • American Red Cross Spectrum Award for Women

  • UMCARD Autism Advocacy Award

  • UMCARD Community Leadership Award

  • Junior League of Miami, “Women Who Make a Difference” Award’

  • Fairchild Philanthropy Award 2016