Eden Autism Day of Giving 2024

Eden was there when we needed them most

A Message from Danny’s Grandfather

My grandson Danny has been at Eden since he was six. We always felt at home at Eden, but over the past year we truly understood how much Eden is part of our family.

In March 2023, Danny was diagnosed with cancer. For months Danny was in and out of the hospital and physical therapy rehab. The unpredictability of his treatments upended our family and kept Danny away from his favorite place, the Eden School.

But during this difficult time the staff brought the magic of Eden to the hospital. Eden rallied around us. Danny’s current and former teachers came to visit. They stayed with him, allowing Danny’s parents precious moments to focus on themselves and Danny’s sister with the peace of mind that comes from knowing their son was being cared for by people he loved.

These moments were an indispensable part of Danny’s treatment. He would light up when he saw his teachers walk through the door, often wearing Danny Strong t-shirts with the word “happy” written across the front. The word “happy” became our mantra. Throughout his treatment, Danny could still be seen with a smile on his face thanks to the love he received from his family, friends, and Eden staff.

In August, Danny finished his final round of chemotherapy and rang the bell to mark the monumental occasion. The doctors knew the best thing for Danny was to get him back to school, but it was hard to imagine letting him out of our sight as he regained his strength and balance. But Eden isn’t just any school, we knew the staff would take care of his physical and mental needs and give him the sense of safety and community critical to his full recovery. In October, Danny led the 1-mile walk during the Eden Autism 5K & Fun Run/Walk, just months after not being able to walk at all.

We are blessed to be part of this organization, but Eden needs everyone’s support. The programs go beyond the school, helping with medical appointments, transitioning students into adulthood, securing employment, and providing housing. Eden is a resource like no other, and I don’t know where my family would be without their constant care and support over the last 15 years. 

This is more than just our story. This is an Eden story. It’s Eden at its core — a group of people banding together to do whatever they can, whatever it takes, to support individuals and their families through good times and bad. They celebrate every victorious milestone and stand with families when life throws the unthinkable their way.

Please join me in supporting Eden so they may continue to uplift families and shine light on the darkest of days.


Dan O’Connell
Danny’s Grandfather

This story is part of Eden Autism’s Day of Giving series celebrating Danny’s remarkable journey. For more information, visit www.edenautism.org/day-of-giving/

How Your Donation Will Help

Your gift will enable our teachers, direct support professionals, speech therapists, and staff continue to support individuals with autism and their families. From the classroom and doctor’s offices to residences and job sites, we are committed to ensuring all of the individuals we support lead engaging and fulfilling lives to the best of their abilities.