The Hudak Family Fund
When Barb Hudak's niece Katie was diagnosed with autism, it shattered the confidence of the entire family.
"To show you how really sophisticated we thought we were, we said, 'What is it?' Then we said, 'Just tell us where we go to get it fixed.'"
Soon, they came to the realization that you don't fix autism, you live with it. And while an early diagnosis was integral to Katie's development, treatment options were few and far between. "There was nothing here," Barb said. "Nothing."
They found help for Katie five states away at the Dan Marino Center in Florida. But Barb soon learned that many local families were not so fortunate. "People here would tell me, 'My grandson has autism,' or, 'My next door neighbor's daughter has autism.' And I would ask if they were finding help. And they said, 'We're struggling, we don't know where to go, who to turn to.' I knew then that the community needed something," she said.
In 2005, Barb started the Hudak Family Fund at Akron Community Foundation, which supports research and treatment for autism. Her goal is to improve the lives of local children and families affected by the autism spectrum disorder.
"Early diagnosis, early intervention – it's not the cure, but it is the key," she said. "If families can do that for their children, they will reap the rewards many times over. And when I hear, 'My child now talks,' or, 'My child now plays with other children,' or, 'My child can now look you in the eye,' I know the Hudak Family Fund has provided the right thing."