Monopoly tournament to benefit KAMPN program

Stephanie Sansoucy

The organization Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature will host a Monopoly tournament Oct. 11 at Footsloggers on Depot Street.

This tournament will raise money for KAMPN’s nature-based summer camp, which is free to families with a child with autism.

Another goal is to raise awareness for autism in the community, said KAMPN president Jim Taylor.

Tickets are on sale and each ticket purchased raises the chances of being chosen for the competition. Sixteen people will be chosen for the first round and the top four will continue on to the final round.

Every person in the tournament will receive a prize, and the prize value will increase the further a person makes it in the tournament, Taylor said.

John Meyer, who has autism, will be the honorary official for the event. Meyer was a part of the National Monopoly Tournament in 2003 and 2009.

KAMPN is held every summer in Deep Gap and started when Taylor’s grandson Charlie, who was diagnosed with autism, visited Taylor’s property and seemed to be more comfortable in nature, Taylor said.

Taylor, who worked as both a special education teacher and an education professor, said he saw the impact a natural environment could have for children with disabilities.

“I saw Charlie enjoying nature so much and how different he was in a safe, natural environment,” Taylor said.

At first, Taylor and his wife waited tables to raise money for the camp. While waiting tables, Taylor and his wife met Appalachian State University students who were interested in volunteering at the camp.

KAMPN was officially incorporated in May 2011 and students have volunteered throughout the entire process, Taylor said.

“We’ve had as many as 14 students there at a time,” Taylor said.

The camp is free to parents, which is important since many parents who have a child with disabilities cannot afford to pay for similar summer camps, Taylor said, which often cost more than $1,000 a week for each child.

Organizations and events like this raise awareness to statistics that many people do not know about, Louis Gallien, dean of Reich College of Education, said.

“I think [it’s important] to raise awareness that it’s a pandemic in America and that there are few programs and certainly very few formal programs for children with autism,” Gallien said.

The first round of competition will start at 4:30 p.m. and the final round will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from the Appalachian chapter of Student Council for Exceptional Children or at Footsloggers.

Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Senior News Reporter