Anonymous neighbor objects to blue porch lights for autism awareness

Anonymous neighbor objects to blue porch lights for autism awareness

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by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 11:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 25 at 11:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The garage light at the home of Julie and Matthew Riccardi is blue, and for a good reason.

"They are to symbolize autism awareness," said Julie.

The Riccardi's son, 10-year-old Deacon, was born with autism.

To call attention to autism awareness month, they put in the blue light -- just as many other groups and private companies do every April.

But not long after, the Riccardis found an unsigned letter at their house, with no return address.  The writer did not like the blue light.

The letter read in part, "Seriously?  Purple, blue lights on the garage?  Mom always said there is one bad apple in the bunch."

The anonymous writer went on to warn that the development's Home Owner's Association would not approve.

After he saw the letter, Matthew said, "I went into dad mode.  I went into, you know, 'I'm ready to kick some butt,' mode."

Of their son, Julie said, "He didn't ask to be brought into the world with autism and he is very special and deserves to be recognized."

The anonymous letter writer was wrong about the HOA objecting to the blue light too.  In fact, Jennifer Sonnifeld of Cusick Management, offered the family support.

"They were very compassionate.  Apologized on behalf of whoever that it was that did this," said Julie Riccardi.

And as word of the anonymous letter spread down the street, nearly a dozen other neighbors switched their lights to blue to support Deacon and his parents.

Matthew said there was a lesson in all of this.

"It's OK if you don't understand something.  It's even OK if you don't agree with something.  But at least have the courtesy to ask," he said.

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