AirWorx Construction Equipment & Supply, a rental, sales and service company in Indianapolis, Ind., is renting a specially designed JLG boomlift to raise awareness about autism. Scott Huggins, vice president of AirWorx and father of a 6-year-old autistic boy wanted to raise awareness about the disorder, which currently affects one of every 150 children in the United States, according to the Autism Society of America.
There is no known cure for autism, but individuals with the disability can be treated to lessen the effects and increase their quality of life and functional independence in the future. Current estimates place the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism at more than $3.5 million per child.
After reading about a rental company in Iowa that used boomlifts to raise money for breast cancer awareness, Huggins contacted Tim Morris, vice president, market development and sales for the Americas for JLG Industries, one of AirWorx’s largest equipment suppliers. JLG painted the lift a special color and create unique “jigsaw puzzle” graphics covering the entire surface of the machine to symbolize the pieces of the autism puzzle that have yet to be completed. The boomlift is rented to AirWorx customers and a percentage of the rental income is donated to fund autism-related activities. Rental customers can elect to contribute an additional amount beyond the rental rate, with 100 percent of the additional contribution going directly to autism-related programs.
AirWorx decided to donate 20 percent of all rental revenue generated by the unit, with half going to the Autism society of America and the other half for a scholarship to The Independence Academy, a unique new school in Indianapolis that specializes in education for middle and high-school students with high-functioning autism. The school was opened in September 2008 and features a low student-to-teacher ratio, individualized curriculum and a structured day for each student that includes social and life skills training and self-awareness development.
Based on AirWorx’s current rental rates for the boomlift, it expects to contribute more than $7,000 per year for contributions to each organization. Huggins and AirWorx president Dick Kagy said the company could make a greater commitment in the future.
As a “thank you” to the customers who rent the machine, AirWorx will have the customers’ name, project name and amount of money their rental raised for autism printed on a label to be placed on top of one of the colored jigsaw piece graphics on the machine to serve as a testament to those who helped create awareness for autism.
More information about autism can be obtained from the Autism Society of America at www.autism-society.org.