Mieko Hester-Perez may have an unconventional foundation, but her fundraiser was anything but. A first class event, from the red carpet to the guest list, the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills was the perfect place for the Unconventional Foundation For Autism to hold their first event – and what an event it was!
It may have been called an awareness mixer, but judging by the attendance, and the Good Morning America reel playing Joey’s story on every flat screen in the joint, it appears you would have to be living under a rock if you didn’t know who Mieko Hester-Perez and her son, Joey, are.
Joey’s battle with autism began at the early age of 16 months, by age 10 he had gone through 13 different medications and had become anorexic and malnourished, wasting away to a mere 45 pounds. Now 11, and much improved through the use of medical marijuana in the form of brownies, Joey has put his pounds back on and his symptoms of autism are to a much lesser degree now that he is on a safe treatment method.
Mieko is on her way to helping other families with the their own struggles through her foundation, The Unconventional Foundation For Autism. Her goal is to bring California’s Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215) to every state that has a law standing in the way of a mother saving the life her own child, as Mieko points out:
“I spent many sleepless nights feeling hopeless and helpless so I know when I hear the voice of another mother, I know what she is going through and I don’t want anyone to have to experience what some of the strongest women I have come to meet lately have endured.”
Mieko looked to Medical Marijuana when she was first told that Joey had only months to live. She had tried everything up to that point, everything conventional that is. It wasn’t until she discovered some research highlighting the medicinal benefits of cannabis with children suffering from autism. After many sleepless nights and hopeless months, Joey finally showed signs of improvement within hours of eating his first brownie with an indica strain of medical cannabis.
Now that Mieko has painstakingly answered many of her own questions, it’s time for her and the Unconventional Foundation For Autism to help answer those same questions that millions of families around the world share.
“Thankfully I’m in a state where I was able to come across the research and apply it so that I could save the life of my son. Now that I’m helping other families with their special needs loved ones, some of them are finding the law is stopping them from providing that person with a better quality of life. I’m here to help end that. They call my foundation, they get me on the phone.”
She’s got an army of supporters too! WeeDeliverFree, the company that delivers Joey’s medication to Mieko and her husband, Eric, do this for free. The Aqua Lounge donated the venue, Medical Marijuana 411.com helped produce the event and was on hand to capture footage that will be featured in a segment ABC’s 20/20 that they will be airing later this spring. Devin Calloway from Ajnag, UK’s Splash (TMZ), and other media was also on hand and Treating Yourself Magazine is featuring Mieko and Joey in an upcoming issue of their journal.
Even ‘unconventional’ sponsorships are forming through companies like SurvivalWare, a cash-flow projections and analysis software company that can’t help but see a story like this and want to do anything they can to help. “I think every parent who hears about Joey and Mieko see a mother doing anything she possibly can to save the life of her child, and I don’t know a single parent that wouldn’t do the same,” says Rusty Luhring, CEO of Survivalware.
Solar Source, a local solar energy company based in Long Beach, was also on hand to support the event, was thrilled to see such a positive turnout, as Jarrod Osborne and his wife, Lauren, were able to find a babysitter for their newborn baby boy so they could “be inspired by a mother who truly has done everything she can to save the life of her son.”
One candidate for Lancaster City Council, Victoria Zavala, who runs a delivery collective in the Antelope Valley, was also on hand to support Mieko, and spoke to the crowd just before Mieko went on stage, encouraging supporters to continue sharing Mieko and Joey’s story, and help others tell their own in whatever community they call home.
Mieko’s long time friend and attorney, Ted Cromwell, from The Cromwell Group, was another sponsor and also spoke at the event, mentioning the importance of supporting mothers like Mieko – some of whom may not share her resilience and courage.