Monday, June 12, 2017

Jackson-Jay Foundation raises funds for autism

Jackson-Jay Foundation: 
Improving quality of life for those with autism 

By Valentina Basilicata

Andre Lessard, President and Founder of Jackson-Jay Foundation
 with his wife Maude Bourassa. (Photo credit, 
Alain Bellier)
Father and entrepreneur André Lessard and his team proudly celebrated the official launch of the Jackson-Jay Foundation on June 1, 2017. Named after his five-year-old autistic son, the foundation’s mission is to offer financial support to adults living with autism. Dozens of friends and family members, as well as numerous Quebec celebrities from the sports and arts community, including Jonathan Roy, Paul Byron, Kim St-Pierre and Joey Scarpellino, joined him for a dinner-cocktail fundraiser at Restaurant Le 20 in Laval. 

In a recent press release, Lessard highlighted: “In North America, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.  We want to ensure a better quality of life once they are adults and for their future.”  
DJ P-O (Pierre-Olivier Leboeuf) was one of the DJ`s at the event, with his proud father Jean-Pierre. 
(Photo credit, Alain Bellier)
An emotional Lessard kicked off the festive evening by unveiling a big project his foundation aims to undertake: the development of residential communities for semi-autonomous autistic adults aged 18 and over. The communities will be made up of multiple quadruplexes, each with four units for rent. After five years, the tenant is given the option to purchase the unit, allowing “the individual to acquire a guaranteed financial asset,” according Lessard. 

The Red Carpet (Photo credit, Alain Bellier)

Within the community, centrally located, non-residential buildings will house restaurants, sport complexes and more, allowing a common space for the occupants to socialize and even take life-skills classes in the evenings. Dedicated specialists and therapists will be onsite for support and to help residents. The foundation will team with local businesses and corporations to guarantee jobs for the residents, although job opportunities will also be available within the complex. The goal of these unique neighbourhoods is to ease the burden placed on parents caring for adults with autism by creating an environment where their grown children can live independently while being well cared for.

“It’s not just one community we are planning on building, its many,” says Lessard, adding that although he cannot yet reveal the locations, they will be popping up throughout the country, including Quebec and Ontario. “We’re working with national corporate partners right now.” 

 The foundation will organize two to three events a year to raise the funds necessary to support the cause so dear to Lessard’s heart. He and his wife, Maude, learned their son was autistic when he was two years old. They have been proactive in getting him early intervention.  Two years ago, they held a private fundraiser that brought in $90,000 to help pay for Jackson-Jay’s therapies at the Miriam Foundation’s Gold Centre. 

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