CARROLLWOOD — MaryLynn Pearson believes in miracles. She needed them during a time in her life that she said was one that would have challenged anyone without her faith.
It was 25 years ago and she learned her new daughter, Dana, had been diagnosed with autism. She never forgets that day. All these years later, her daughter still struggles with autism and needs constant supervision. For while her verbal skills are fine and she can communicate well, she still has some issues with interpersonal skills.
MaryLynn is doing all she can to make sure no other parent has to deal with the same issue. She loves her daughter with all her heart and is determined to help find a cure to what she describes as a “weird, quirky disease.”
She is co-owner of The Salon & Spa at Mystic Hair, 13801 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. On Feb. 23 she hosted a cut-a-thon and a live and silent auction. Through those events and the help of nearby salon The Edge, more than $15,000 was raised to benefit Autism Speaks. Another $2,600 was raised by a Poker Run organized by the Iron Order Pieces of Eight Motorcycle Club.
There are more events on the way. On April 26, supporters will participate in a walk-a-thon at Raymond James Stadium. It’s just a beginning in the fight against autism, Pearson said.
“This is something that is near and dear to my heart,” Pearson said. “The main thing is to get the word out to others on how much more research needs to be done. We do a lot to raise money and 100 percent of it goes to research.”
Pearson said she thinks the research is long overdue. When Dana was born, she appeared to be normal. After two years, MaryLynn noticed Dana wasn’t speaking as well as she should be. The mother went into a state of denial until she realized there wasn’t much she could do.
“I’d have said I would have shot myself if I knew my daughter had something like autism,” MaryLynn said. “I looked for miracles. She was and still is a beautiful girl. It’s been tough, but our support system is huge and I am going to do everything I can to make it better. We’ve had so much help and we want to give back.”
To support Autism Speaks, contact Mary Lynn Pearson at (813) 389-8989 or stop by the store.