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by Kaitlin Ahern

Related: drive4rebecca, autism, special needs, advocacy, cross country, advocacy 4 all,

Jon Singer and daughter RebeccaOn April 16, Jon Singer and his daughter Rebecca, along with friends and family, set out on a 3,500-mile cross-country trek from New York to California to raise money and awareness for special needs advocacy. Singer founded this event, called the Drive4Rebecca, in 2002, to support research and education for children with special needs and help their parents become stronger advocates. "Kids with special needs are at a huge disadvantage when their parents don't know their rights or are unable to advocate for the best education," Singer explains. "Let's not leave these children behind."

The Drive4Rebecca is named for Singer's 14-year-old daughter who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, which causes autistic tendencies such as lack of speech that make communication difficult. "As my family has learned first hand, there is still a long way to go towards helping families to become stronger advocates for their children," Singer says.

During the 10-day drive, which ended in Los Angeles on April 23, father and daughter met with families in seven cities across the country and shared their story along with Singer's new book, The Special Needs Parent Handbook, the sales of which support a new initiative called Advocacy 4 All.

For more information, visit www.drive4rebecca.org.

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