Austin’s Playroom

AUTISM AWARENESS has never been at a more fevered pitch. All types of events and programs are being staged to bring people up to speed with autism as well as raising much-needed money for research and treatment.

It is a worthwhile cause, one deserving of our support.

Wheeling Hospital has received a huge shot-in-the-arm to assist families of autistic children. Austin’s Playroom opened in the hospital’s Center for Pediatrics Tuesday.

The state-of-the-art room was made possible by former Pittsburgh Penguins’ star and now team owner Mario Lemieux and his wife Nathalie.

The Lemieux family launched a foundation after their son Austin endured tough times in his infancy. Austin was born premature and needed a long stay in the hospital. The family discovered firsthand the difficulty on how tough it is to spend time with Austin, his medical staff and attend to the needs of their two other children.

Nathalie quickly developed a game plan to help remedy such problems. The Lemieuxs identified the need for playrooms where children would feel at home. They include child-size couches, chairs and tables, as well as games, toys, bookshelves, artwork and aquariums, all adorned in bright and warm colors. They are home away from homes.

Austin’s Playroom has made a major impact in the lives of countless youths. Wheeling Hospital is the 27th facility to house an Austin’s Playroom, with others being located in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh of UPMC to name just two.

We commend the Lemieux family for their compassion and generosity to the autism cause. We also thank them for keeping the Ohio Valley in mind for the latest Austin’s Playroom.

Wheeling Hospital also deserves kudos for being a first-rate facility worthy of attracting the Lemieuxs’ interest.

Nathalie Lemieux said, “Our dream has now come true for the 27th time at Wheeling Hospital. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible, so fulfilling such dreams will continue.”

We hope the Lemieux family realizes its goals. If so, the dreams of many people will be fulfilled.