The bond between dogs and children with autism will be highlighted during a three-day fundraising festival over Labor Day weekend in downtown Matthews.
Local nonprofits Yorkie Haven Rescue and Reagan’s Wish will join to host the first annual PAWtism Festival Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the new location of Plantation Animal Clinic, 135 W. John St.
The festival will run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
The festival will include local vendors, at least three other dog rescues, a bounce house, face painting, clown, food by Two Chicks and a Truck, bake sale and large raffle with prizes such as a $100 Target gift card, two-bedroom luxury resort family vacation, two-person hot air balloon ride and a free round of golf with lessons.
Raffle tickets are $10 for 25 tickets.
Festival organizers John Beard, a Yorkie Haven Rescue volunteer, and Kimberly Pace Smith, founder of Reagan’s Wish, met at the animal clinic where Smith works. She launched Reagan’s Wish last year to provide iPads to local children with autism after the gift of an iPad to her nonverbal autistic daughter, Reagan, changed her life.
“Many children on the spectrum are visual learners, so the iPad is a wonderful tool for these children and can open a whole new world for them as it has my daughter,” she said on her website.
To date, Reagan’s Wish has awarded 14 iPads.
PAWtism is a chance to bring two great causes together, Beard said.
“My passion for animal rescue is matched by Kim’s passion to raise awareness about autism and we make a great team,” he said. “We believe the festival will directly benefit our local community today and for many years to come. My personal goal for the festival is to raise awareness for our causes, for our vendors to be successful since they are taking a weekend out of their time to be with us, and for our patrons to enjoy all the activities we have planned.”
Smith said PAWtisim is “Two causes sharing one heart. What an awesome opportunity to raise awareness in our community for animal rescue and children affected by autism – causes John and I are both very passionate about.”