The Butchikas family donated thousands of dollars Wednesday afternoon to the Early Childhood Autism Program at Florida State University – Panama City.
The family made the donation through the George A. Butchikas Autism Foundation.
George Butchikas explained that the foundation was created 21 years ago, for a reason that hits close to home.
“Back in 1991 my daughter Camille was diagnosed with autism, and we decided to start our own foundation which was started in 1997 to raise money to fund kids that are autistic to help with their therapy.”
Since then, they’ve been giving back to the community by raising money at events at their restaurant, Angelo’s Steak Pit.
“All the money that we raise stays here locally in Bay County, and it helps children with autism,” Butchikas said.
For the last 16 years, the Butchikas family has had a long standing partnership with FSU’s Early Childhood Autism Program, or ECAP.
Now they’re continuing that partnership with a $40,000 donation to the program.
“This generosity of the family and the Butchikas foundation is helping many families across Bay County,” ECAP Development Director, Dr. Amy Polick, said.
Dr. Polick explained that the money will allow families to apply for a scholarship that will provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to children with autism for free.
“Kids that come into our program, they receive individualized assessments, then we’re able to chart with each child the skills that they need to be successful,” she said.
Butchikas said the program means light at the end of the tunnel for families.
“With this therapy, we’ll be able to help parents deal with their children and hopefully mainstream them into today’s life,” he said.
The money for the donation was raised through the Angelo’s Steak Pit auction last October.