"When the earthquake hit, we knew immediately what we had to do. Within hours, we organized a fund-raising campaign and our members and supporters stepped up to the task," said SIF President Sarno. "Upon hearing about the destruction of the Fondazione Il Cireneo center in L'Aquila, we saw the opportunity to make a significant impact on a very special group of children and their families."

Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus per L'Autismo is a non-profit organization that has established and operates four centers for children and young adults with autism in the Abruzzo region. The foundation was formed by a group of parents who thought centers, rather than institutions, could better help their children with autism.* When the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on April 6, the Fondazione's facility in L'Aquila was destroyed, along with much of the ancient Italian town.

The OSIA delegation toured L'Aquila and met with representatives of Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus. OSIA was also honored at a public ceremony with residents of L'Aquila in attendance, including parents of the children who will attend the new center. The group concluded its visit with a tour of the new site for the facility, estimated to be completed within the year.

In presenting a check for $235,000 to Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus, National President DiTrapani said he "was certain that OSIA's 600,000 family members would be pleased with their contribution." He added that OSIA "proudly joined the Ronald McDonald Charities and the governments of Canada and Quebec" in contributing some $750,000 total to the project.

On April 15, 2011, La Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus in L'Aquila, Italy unveiled its new center for children with autism, replacing the building destroyed by the devastating earthquake in 2009. The rebuilding effort was made possible with the help of $235,000 donated by OSIA/SIF.

We should all be proud to have been part of this wonderful rebuilding effort.   Unfortunately, OSIA could not attend this official launching.