BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Kim Fields is probably best remembered for her role as Tootie on the “Facts of Life,” but she is currently a big supporter of the Mississippi Centers for Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities.
The actress, author, motivational speaker and mother took time out of her schedule to help bring awareness to South Mississippi.
“My mother always taught me to find a need and fill it,” Fields said.
Although she is not personally affected by autism, she said she has a duty to uphold.
“You were still a part of that village, part of that community,” Fields said.
Community members were on board to help her and support the cause. Current board members said that supporting something you are passionate about is all that matters.
“The main important thing is that you get to serve, and serving is the number one thing that you want to do with your life,” said board member Rita Blenman.
Autism affects 1 in 59 children. With so many children being diagnosed, people are constantly pushing for help to learn more about it.
“The more people become aware of it, the bigger the impact,” Blenman said.
The work does take time and manpower to see the results.
“It’s important to understand that this is not a short engagement,” Fields said.
Without fundraising and public support, important programs like the summer enrichment camp would not have happened.
“School gets out and sometimes parents still need their care to happen, regardless if they’re coming to the center or if they’re going to the program,” Blenman said.
The progress that autism research is making is inspiring to some people. The children and adults who have autism are being shown that they can lead and defy all odds bet against them.
“We are growing them to be really strong contributors to the community and to society,” Fields said.
Sunday’s event with Kim Fields wrapped up a weekend of fundraising events for autism awareness and research.