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A carwash for Connor

Friends of Connor Tiffany raise money for autism support groups


It’s a story that begins 10 years ago with a devastating diagnosis.

And it’s a story that doesn’t end, because of the enthusiasm of young philanthropists who have banded together to support a friend.

The diagnosis came back in 2004 when Connor Tiffany was about 18 months old. His doctors told his parents, Craig and Brittainy, that their son had PDD-NOS: pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Connor Tiffany helps out at a carwash July 15. A student-led group, Friends of Connor, was raising money for the Tiffany family's nonprofit organization, the Tiffany Autism Foundation.“That was the beginning of our road to autism,” Craig Tiffany said. “The future was very bleak at that point. We were told he’d be institutionalized, maybe never talk. We just didn’t accept that.”

After receiving a medical diagnosis of autism, as well as a scholastic diagnosis of the same, Connor attended Stafford Primary School in West Linn. This fall he will attend Rosemont Ridge Middle School as a sixth-grader. He lives with his parents and two siblings in West Linn; his mother owns a Wilsonville business, Tiffany Home Design.

“We were quite happy with his progress. We have the things we need; we can provide for him,” Craig Tiffany said. “We can do more.”

The Tiffany family realized they had a strength they could draw upon.

“We’re good at throwing parties,” he said.

So, they became involved with a nonprofit called the Resting K Foundation, organizers of something called the Autism Ball. The founders of that organization eventually left, under positive terms, and the Tiffany family took over. The nonprofit is now generally known as the Tiffany Autism Foundation, and the ball became the White Party, an annual fundraiser that grew out of a Brittainy Tiffany’s 40th birthday party.

“In lieu of gifts we asked for donations,” Tiffany said. “It was a midsummer party, and I wanted to have a theme.”

The White Party’s main beneficiary is Walk Now for Autism Speaks. In 2013, the Tiffany Autism Foundation also supported a local organization, Camp Yakety Yak, that helps special needs children develop communication and friendship skills. In the future, Tiffany hopes to add another organization, one that provides service dogs to autistic people, if funds allow.

That’s where Connor’s young friends come in.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Emma Wells, Maddie Wick, Haley Thayer, Lauren Griffith adn Katy Miller work near Wanker's Corner, waving in customers for the Tiffany Autism Foundations Friends of Connor carwash.A student-driven organization, Friends of Connor, raises money for the Tiffany Autism Foundation through child-centered activities like lemonade stands, carwashes and a craft fair event known as Cowboy Connor Days.

Ginger Highland is an adult mentor to the kids who keep Friends of Connor going.

“When we met to start planning the White Party — Brit reached out to a handful of friends,” Highland said. “I had previous experience with fundraising through the Children’s Cancer Association. I started getting kids involved.”

In 2012, Friends of Connor raised more than $600, Highland said.

“We had a little over two weeks. It was pretty impressive,” she said.

Last year, with more time to plan, the group raised $1,200. This year, Highland expects an even higher total, in part because the group is attracting more — and older — students.

“We had nationwide lemonade stands, in Ohio, Connecticut, Texas and Arizona. Friends did lemonade stands on the same day. It looks like they’ve raised quite a bit of money,” she said. “I’d like to double what we did last year, but I’m not putting that pressure on the kids.”

“It’s also doubling the number of kids involved,” Craig Tiffany said. “We’re also raising the next generation of philanthropists.”

Cole Peters is one of those young philanthropists. He worked at a carwash held in the parking lot at Wanker’s Country Store July 15.

“We’re washing cars to raise money for Friends of Connor,” he said. “That supports kids with autism. I am here to see all my friends and to help out Connor. I met him in kindergarten and he’s been an awesome friend since that year.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Dylan Tiffany, left, and Thomas Skates work hard on a hot day to raise money for autism support through the Tiffany Autism Foundation.Asked to describe his friend, Cole mentioned autism matter-of-factly — and briefly.

“Anyone who really knows him knows not to focus on that. They focus on how much fun he is,” Cole said. “He has autism. He seems to brighten up the room whenever he walks in. He’s helped me in a lot of small ways. A couple of times, he’s helped me with school work. He’s helped me with friends. A lot of kids need help.”

Another of Connor’s friends working at the carwash, Morgan Highland, said that he is the only boy she counts among her friends.

“In first or second grade, we were in class together. He really liked hanging out with me,” she said. “I always want to do things for Connor. I’ll take time off for him.”

She was keeping an eye out for a sneak attack coming from her friend, though.

“Connor loves playing, and he’s really funny. He loves the hose, and last year he squirted me,” she said.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Kaia Kadel suds up a vehicle at a carwash fundraiser July 15 at Wanker's Corner on Stafford Road. While the money the kids raise for their family’s foundation is welcome, seeing his son interact with friends is priceless.

“We made a conscious decision 10 years ago that we weren’t going to hide him or make excuses. He’s very social, has a lot of good friends, which is atypical,” Tiffany said. “He’s self-sufficient. He makes his own breakfast. He’s a little low academically. Abstract things are a little difficult for him. In the here and now, he’s very competent.”

The Tiffanys are looking beyond their son and his needs toward a larger community. According to the Center for Disease Control, autism affects all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. In 2000, one in 150 children was identified as autistic. In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, that number was one in 68.

“We’re trying to raise over $100,000,” Tiffany said, to support Autism Speaks and other autism support groups.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Friends of Connor raised money July 15 with a carwash held at Wanker's Corner. The students are all friends of Connor Tiffany and worked to support his family's nonprofit organization, the Tiffany Autism Foundation.The White Party, the foundation’s main fundraiser, is scheduled for Aug. 1 at the Oregon Golf Club. Attendance is capped at 250; nearly 200 tickets already have been sold, at $100 apiece. The event features a limited silent auction, some carnival games and an oral auction with a paddle raise. More information is available online at tiffanyautismfoundation.org.


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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