Raise the Roof for Autism was established as a program and campaign to raise awareness for the lack of vocational opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum.
The program was developed by Brad McGarry, and Gene Taylor, President of the Walking Connection.
The program was developed to meet the unique needs of the growing population of college students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This program has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Autism Asperger Digest, Forbes Magazine, NBC’s Today.com, CSPAN, TEDXErie and recently ranked as one of the top programs in the country for Impressive Special College Programs for Students with Autism.
This inaugural Raise the Roof for Autism initiative originally took place half way across the globe and included a successful summit attempt on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa by both Brad and Gene.
This iconic landmark is the largest free standing mountain on the planet and is often referred to as the Roof of Africa. The expedition to the roof in February 2015 was an incredible experience and raised awareness for the lack of vocational resources for qualified adults on the Autism Spectrum.
Raise the Roof for Autism continued to gain momentum when we returned to the states and has continued to advocate and raise awareness. The next logical step was to include adults on the autism spectrum and to give them the opportunity to not only advocate for themselves, but also have the experience of a lifetime.
This initiative has helped in developing collaborations with some of the biggest names in the field of autism, the largest autism employment initiative in history and other national and international endeavors to further our mission and to have an impact on autism employment on a global level.
Brad McGarry at Forest Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, February 2016.
Brad McGarry is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania and received his Masters in 1999 in Community Counseling and completed a Masters Certificate in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in 2012. Brad has worked as an outpatient therapist, psychology faculty, executive director, program developer and has provided direct services for over 20 years. Brad has presented professionally at national and international conferences and also shares his experiences as a keynote speaker and is an advocate for his oldest son, Connor, who is living with a disorder called Angelman Syndrome.
Brad is currently the Director for the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst University and has received numerous awards and accolades for his work and advocacy including being nominated for the Temple Grandin Award through the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania “in recognition of contributions to maximizing the potential and possibilities of children, adolescents and adults with Autism in Pennsylvania.” Although he was not the final recipient it was an honor to be nominated.
Brad has successfully assisted in implementing awareness campaigns that help focus attention on the lack of vocational resources for adults on the autism spectrum that have included Conquer the Canyon with AIM that gave autism students the opportunity to raise awareness and to hike in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Brad also co-developed another successful initiative to raise awareness which included a successful summit attempt on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in February 2015 called Raise the Roof for Autism.
Brad and the AIM Program have received national attention and have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes Magazine, TEDxErie, NBC’s TODAY.com, C-SPAN, Autism Asperger Digest and many regional and national newspapers and magazines.
Brad is happily married and a parent of five wonderful boys, Connor, Braydan, Nico, Nate and Mason.
iConquer and The Walking Connection
The company was cofounded in 1989 and owned and operated by Gene and Jo Ann Taylor.
Since it's beginning in 2003, thousands of people have participated from across North America and around the world. From large multi-million non-profit organizations conducting national campaigns to smaller regional and local organizations, iConquer programming has helped raise more than $23,000,000 in donations for their non-profit clients.
They have been a leader in fighting everything from arthritis to cancer, diabetes to genetic disorders such as muscular dystrophy, Duchenne and Angelman's Syndrome. They have provided an amazing program in support of those affected by spinal cord injuries as well as those who are homeless.
They have created, own and operate adventures in more 30 countries around the globe. All operate under brands and banners that directly reflect the personal commitment their hiking guests undertake in support of their non-profit organization.
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To contact AIM at Mercyhurst University and Brad McGarry or The Walking Connection, please visit our Contact Us page!
Conquer The Canyon - Grand Canyon
Conquer The Volcano - Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Conquer The Trail - Inca Trail - Machu Picchu
Conquer The Crater - Bidur, Iceland
Conquer The Canyon - Waimea Canyon, Hawaii
Conquer The Mountain - Wicklow, Ireland
Conquer The Coast - Amalfi, Italy
Conquer The Mountain - Mt. Kilimanjaro Summit
Conquer The Mountain - A Taste Of Kilimanjaro