Re-Posting Tribute to Avonte Oquendo, by Vickie

9 Sep

avonte oquendoA friend, Vickie, is a stupendous supporter of WJSS, and by that I mean she retweets every single one of my blog posts, and actually reads them, and comments, and I truly appreciate her for doing so.  Vickie, from my hometown, has a fantastic blog of her own, Taking It A Step At A Time, where she writes about her adventures, and challenges of being a mom to her 23 year-old son, D.C. who has autism.

On her blog, Vickie shares personal stories of what it’s like living day-to-day with a child with autism, and while there are many challenges that parents with children without autism never have to think about, what shines through Vickie’s stories, are the sheer joy D.C. experiences each day, much of which is driven by Vickie’s love and devotion to him.

Mom and son costumes for the dozens of dances and parties D.C., with Vickie often in tow, attends each year? Yup.  And, we’re talking characters from Grease, Super Heros, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and more! Trips to the bookstore, Disney, anywhere and everywhere–Vickie is a super Mom, who seems to constantly be thinking of ways to make each day special, creatively stimulating and memorable for D.C., while always having to be thoughtful of the challenges she may face with each outing.

I wanted to share a recent post from Vickie’s blog, about Avonte Oquente, the young boy with autism, who sadly went missing from a New York school last fall.  This story hit home for Vickie, and she followed it with posts on her blog to support the search efforts for Avonte, and to spread awareness of  extra critical matters of being a lost child with special needs.  Please read, and after doing so, visit Vickie’s blog at


Never Will Forget You – Tribute to Avonte Oquente,

by Vickie

Recently I had the immense privilege and honor to listen to the beautiful and heartbreaking song written in memory of Avonte Oquendo, by his uncle, Rocopera.  Even over the telephone, it was apparent that the love he has for this child is immeasurable. The pain of this loss will never be healed.

For those that may not be aware of this story; Avonte Oquendo was a 14 year old, non-verbal boy with Autism who ran away from his school in New York on October 4, 2013. He left a school that was supposed to be secure. He left a school in full view of a security guard. He ran from a school where he was supposed to have a one on one aide at all times. He left a school that did not notify his mother for a full hour after he was discovered missing. He left a school that did not notify the police of his disappearance for a full hour and a half after he was discovered missing. He left school on October 4, 2013, never to be seen alive again.

“This song comes from a broken heart”

His heart IS broken – all of our hearts are broken. What happened to this beautiful child should never have happened. What happened is every parent’s nightmare. Those of us that have children with special needs know this fear all too well. We know that simple things like just putting your child on a school bus and sending him off to school can be terrifying. They are not with us, we are not in control, we are not there to protect and take care of them. As the mother of an adult child with autism, I know this fear. I live this fear. – We all live this fear.

Avonte’s disappearance drove that fear home for all of us. Avonte’s story is not something that happened to one boy or one family in New York – it happened to all of us in the Autism Community. A tragedy like this can happen anywhere – and it does happen everywhere.

“Never Will Forget You – A Tribute to Avonte Oquendo” was written not only as a memorial to the nephew he loved so deeply, but as a vehicle to raise awareness about Autism in general. Rocopera has spent the better part of his adult life advocating for/with the Autism community. His own son is on the Autism Spectrum.

In an effort to work through his pain, Rocopera has been spending much of his time writing and producing “Never Forget You”. He is also tirelessly working on and producing a documentary chronicling the events of that horrific 3 1/2 months. A memorial at the site is in the planning stages, pending the approval of Mayor De Blasio.  Rockopera needs to raise awareness, he needs to know that Avonte will never be forgotten.

In an earlier post, I wrote:

As it has been said, Avonte, brought an entire city together. His disappearance brought an often, very separated Autism community together. It cast a spotlight on the problem of wandering/elopement of Autistic children and adults.  He has raised awareness to the issues that many families face in trying to keep their children safe. Our children should be safe, at all costs…………. Avonte should have been safe in school.

– Avonte Oquendo should be memorialized, in any and every way possible.

“Never Will Forget You – A Tribute to Avonte Oquendo” will be released on iTunes 5 days before the October 4th anniversary of his disappearance, with all of the proceeds to be donated to credible Autism charities.

We will be posting more information about all of these projects in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, please help us spread the word about the release of this beautifully written and performed tribute to Avonte.

I promise you that once you hear “Never Will Forget You”, you will never forget this haunting and so very moving song……………

…………………… we will never forget Avonte.





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