Victoria autism school ready for Top Chef fundraiser

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

April 2, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2013 at 11:02 p.m.

The Vine School plans to cook up autism awareness with its fifth annual Top Chef fundraiser Friday.

The school, founded in 2008, specializes in teaching students, ages 2-10, who are affected by autism.

Top Chef is the school's only fundraiser, said Erin Hatley, the school's executive director.

"We have grown," Hatley said about both the school and fundraiser. "It grows each year."

This year, seven area chefs will compete, producing dishes for the fundraiser's 250 expected guests.

Last year, the school raised $80,000 from ticket sales, auctions, the raffle and donations.

Money raised goes toward tuition assistance and other school needs such as teaching tools, Hatley said.

The school's major source of income comes from grant writing, Hatley said.

Prospective students are on a waiting list because of limited space at the school's current rented space at First United Methodist Church.

The goal is for the school to move into its own building, giving it the opportunity to serve more autistic youth.

Reaching that goal could mean more fundraisers in the future, Hatley said.

"We've come knocking around the idea," she said about more fundraising. "This is our next step."



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