Thunderbirds Charities Grants $15,000.00 to SEEDs for Autism for a new computer lab

(January 8, 2018—Phoenix, AZ) Thunderbirds Charities, hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open presented by Ak-Chin Indian Community recently donated $15,000.00 to SEEDs for Autism, to aid in the development of their newest job training program, a Computers and Media Lab.

SEEDs for Autism was founded in 2010, as a pilot program in the backyard of the founders home, Mary Ann LaRoche. This local program uses real training taught by local professional leaders who are skilled in a variety of technical and trade skills. Most of the hands on skills that are taught are structured to ultimately help the SEEDs participants in the program learn how to make beautiful home and garden products. What makes this program so unique is that they also learn most of the facets necessary to running a business. Every student becomes a valued component because they try everything, and gain greater experiences; from design conception, product production, customer service, to marketing and social media. The students get to use a multitude of real tools while being mentored and encouraged to learn.

According to Mary Ann, “I watched my own brother Paul struggle to find a place in society where he could contribute AND be accepted for who he was. It was heartbreaking to see him have dreams like everyone else: wanting to drive, have his own apartment, but we couldn’t find the resources to support training outside of the traditional limited options provided for most special needs populations.”

“We are so excited to receive this funding and support from Thunderbirds Charities,” says Mary Ann. “It greatly benefits the resources and technical edge that we have been struggling to provide.” The biggest benefit of this funding is that it goes directly to enrich each and every participant in the program. Currently there are 43 participants in the program, but this funding will also add value to the summer programs, which typically are offered to those 15 years and older, who are still in school during the regular year. “To have updated and newer equipment participants will now truly gain yet another real life advantage which will assist them in expanded vocational training,” says Mary Ann.

“SEEDs for Autism gives purpose to this vulnerable population with special needs,” said Andy Markham, President of Thunderbirds Charities. “We’re honored and privileged to help with the upgrades to their technology program.”

SEEDs for Autism encourages each participant to explore and learn new skills, connect to their community, market what they make, and ultimately find their voice. You can see what they make at their website:

About Thunderbirds Charities:

THUNDERBIRDS CHARITIES is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members. For more information on the Thunderbirds or the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit For more information on the Thunderbirds Charities, visit