Posted on: June 23, 2024 Posted by: Latoya Vickers Comments: 3

On May 19th, the atmosphere at A Pink Pump Affair (PPA) was electric, filled with the promise of support and advocacy for children with autism. Hosted by the talented Pat Harvey, this annual event, established by the Special Needs Network (SNN), brought together over 500 attendees who walked a stunning pink carpet, enjoyed a haute couture fashion show by Summer Colony Living, and participated in a live auction hosted by the vivacious Kim Whitley. The gala luncheon was not just a feast for the senses but also a testament to the power of community and the relentless pursuit of a better future for children with special needs.

The Special Needs Network was founded in 2005 by civil rights attorney Areva Martin after her son, Marty, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Motivated by her personal journey and the challenges she faced in accessing resources, Areva set out to create an organization dedicated to helping families from underserved communities. The SNN focuses on four main pillars: reducing the waiting period for families, bringing education, providing unique learning opportunities, and forging action-based coalitions.

In the spirit of advocacy, I asked Areva for her advice to those facing similar challenges. Her words were both empowering and inspiring: “If you are dealing with any issue, health or otherwise, don’t run from it—embrace it. My own journey has taught me there is so much power and strength in numbers. Find your tribe, find those people who will support you.”

This strength was palpable at the Pink Pump Affair, where the community gathered to raise an impressive $20,000 to support children with autism and other special needs. The funds raised will significantly impact the lives of many, aiding in the operations of the newly opened Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (C.A.D.D) at Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital. Additionally, it will send over 200 children to California’s only fully integrated, free summer camp for kids on the spectrum and their peers—a once-in-a-lifetime experience that promises to be both enriching and empowering.

The event also honored several remarkable individuals who have made significant contributions to the autism community. The awardees included:

Tamera Mowry-Housley: Recipient of the Trailblazer Award

Alva Adams-Mason: Honored with the Game Changer Award

Michael Jett: Awarded the Everyday Advocate Award

Cristy Romero: Recognized with the Self Advocate Award

When asked what being a trailblazer means to her, Tamera Mowry-Housley shared, “It makes me feel ‘seen’. I feel honored to have been on this journey this long and to be authentic throughout, which has not always been easy. It makes me feel like the hard work has not been in vain, even when I’ve wanted to quit. Every time I hear a woman tell me ‘thank you… seeing a woman who looks like me, who has hair like me,’ these moments inspire me to keep moving forward.”

The Pink Pump Affair was a beautiful afternoon of advocacy, celebration, and community spirit, highlighting the profound impact that collective effort and dedication can achieve. The funds raised and the awareness generated from this event will continue to support the invaluable work of the SNN, ensuring that children with autism and other special needs receive the resources and opportunities they deserve.

It’s important to remember the remarkable women like Areva Martin, who transform personal challenges into beacons of hope for countless others. Her vision for the Special Needs Network has created a legacy of support and empowerment, demonstrating that with determination and community, extraordinary change is possible. “Sixteen years from now I still want people waiting in anticipation for the Sunday after Mother’s Day to attend the Pink Pump Affair,” Stated Areva Martin.

For more information about the Special Needs Network and to find out how you can get involved, visit

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3 People reacted on this

  1. This seems like it was such a great event advocating for kids in need and raising awareness! Great job LaToya on writing about this amazing event!

  2. I’ve attended this event in the past. The photos barely capture the excitement and energy in the room. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What an inspiring event! The Pink Pump Affair exemplifies the profound impact of community and advocacy in supporting children with autism and special needs. Congratulations to Areva Martin and all the award recipients. Excellent article, Latoya!

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