HOUSTON – Throughout the month of April, KPRC 2 is honoring World Autism Awareness month. The goal is to raise awareness and shine the spotlight on resources for families living with autism, while also striving for more understanding, kindness, and acceptance surrounding a disorder that’s often misunderstood.
In KPRC 2′s Voices of Houston series, we are profiling a Houston man who has made it his mission to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder after his young niece was diagnosed with it six years ago.
Joey Moppert is a longtime volunteer of Autism Speaks Houston, an organization aimed at equipping families with the resources they need to help a loved one with autism, and also help create a more inclusive world lead with awareness and understanding. A mission that’s become close to his heart after his 13-year-old niece, Lily, was diagnosed at just 7 years old.
“Lily is so full of joy and energy, a lot of energy, and she’s just an amazing human being,” said Moppert, “She was diagnosed at the age of 7, and since then my sister had just been processing everything and learning how to get the resources she needs.”
Following Lily’s autism diagnosis, Moppert said he wanted to learn more about ASD so he attended his first Autism Speaks walk, and for him, the rest is history. From there, he began volunteering at many of the organization’s events, including the Autism Speaks Annual Chef’s Gala, which raised $100,000 for autism awareness in 2019.
“The chef’s gala is a fantastic event. I will be able to chair this year’s Gala. It will be the first event we’ve held in a long time back in person,” said Moppert. “We have all the safety precautions in place, and it’s just going to be a fantastic event.”
He is also proud to be a part of an organization that is working to reduce the stigma surrounding a disorder that is often misunderstood and to increase awareness and understanding. Moppert said that’s his biggest goal for everyone in the future.
I think once people understand what autism is, they’ll be less afraid of it, and that will help increase our understanding, acceptance, and overall kindness towards others. That’s something I really think we need right now,” said Moppert.
Providing resources and tools to help educate and equip families living with autism is a mission near and dear to Moppert’s heart through his volunteer work with Autism Speaks Houston. It’s his life mission for all families, including his own - for Lilly.
“I hope Lily just keeps doing what she’s doing. She is loving life. She is fantastic, and as long as she keeps going down this path, I’m positive she will have an amazing and fully fulfilled life and have so much fun in it.”