5 Feb 2024
Ascendigo Autism Services is a nationally recognized non-profit for autism services and recreation. Based in the Roaring Fork Valley, Ascendigo provides opportunities for growth and independence for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Ascendigo Blue Aspen is Ascendigo Autism Services' premier fundraising event. 2024 marks 20 years of services, and this flagship fundraiser will surely be an extraordinary celebration with a Great Gatsby-themed gala hosted at the St. Regis Resort.
Founded in 2004, Ascendigo was started as a summer sports camp by Sallie Bernard, who believed individuals on the autism spectrum should have the same access to a full and rich experience afforded to their neurotypical peers. Ascendigo has since expanded significantly to offer year-round outdoor options for recreation alongside a comprehensive life program, behavior therapy, and other training.
The goal of Ascendigo is to integrate individuals with autism into community life both recreationally and socially. Through adventure sports, life skills development, compatible employment, and community engagement, Ascendigo’s proprietary curriculum educates service providers, caregivers, and community members about autism and autism support.
The following programs are offered at Ascendigo:
The Outreach Program (Children 0-7)
Ascendigo’s Outreach Program provides services and therapies for children with autism and other cognitive differences who reside in the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding communities. The program aims to help these children fully engage in family, school, and community life.
The Outreach Team consists of experienced professionals from the fields of recreational therapy and applied behavior analysis. Behavioral therapy helps to focus on the child’s motivations and interests, enabling increased skills for social interactions as well as communication and independence. Recreational therapy is also critical to social development, emphasizing the importance of getting outside for exercise and acquiring new skills that will impact the mind, body, and spirit.
Ascendigo Adventures (Children 8-18)
Ascendigo Adventures offers sports instruction by professionals trained in autism support strategies and designed for athletes anywhere on the spectrum. The program offers the services of the Outreach Program as well as a Winter and Summer Adventure Camp.
Ascendigo’s Winter Adventures Programs offer supported instruction in skiing and snowboarding for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other cognitive differences. Programs take place at Aspen Snowmass resorts with beginner to expert experiences in skiing and snowboarding available.
The flagship program, Summer Adventures Camp, features some of the best outdoor adventure sports venues in the state. Campers of all abilities are engaged in fun and exciting ways and receive autism-friendly support from sports specialists/coaches. Individuals are encouraged to try the sports that are offered and explore their strengths and abilities.
Life Enrichment (Adults)
Life Enrichment is comprised of 4 sub-programs, each of which can be accessed independently or combined into one comprehensive program. Specialists are deployed in the areas of employment, recreation, health and wellness, social/relationships, learning, creative outlets, community navigation, and functional daily living skills.
This year-round program supports adults with autism wanting to live and participate in the community. ACE therapists and specialists provide the structure and support needed for clients to have a life of independence, wellness, and social engagement.
Ascendigo’s employment program is dedicated to helping clients reach their full potential of living a life with dignity, purpose, and respect. The program helps to ensure the success of the employee and maximize their productivity
Winter and Summer Adventures
In addition to the ACE program and Employment Services, adults have the opportunity to take part in the Winter and Summer Adventure Camps to explore sports and recreation and further develop strengths and abilities.
Ascendigo Blue Aspen
Ascendigo Blue 2024 is the flagship fundraiser designed to bring awareness and funding to Ascendigo and its mission to elevate the spectrum by empowering people, inspiring lives, and shattering expectations. The “blue” in Asendigo Blue was chosen to recognize autism awareness as it is often the color associated with autism. In the spirit of World Autism Awareness Day, Ascendigo Blue Aspen lights up Aspen during the height of ski season on Presidents’ weekend.
The History of Ascendigo Blue Aspen
In late 2011, Asendigo founder and board chair Sallie Bernard collaborated with others to create a way to raise awareness and funds for autism in the Roaring Fork Valley by lighting up Aspen Mountain for World Autism Awareness Day. As a result, Aspen Mountains’ Little Nell run was aglow with blue lights the following year for the first Light It Up Blue Aspen event. The following year, the base of the run once again glowed in blue as guests of the event enjoyed food and cocktails inside the hotel.
Though World Autism Awareness Day was recognized in early April, a decision was made in 2014 to move the Light It Up Blue Aspen even to Presidents’ Day weekend to coincide with the busy ski season. That same year, the venue changed to the Hotel Jerome to accommodate the event’s growth in attendance.
The event has continued to grow throughout the years, and the guest list has become more distinguished. Special guests have included everyone from actors to political activists to journalists and more. The success of the event is due in large part to the efforts of the hardworking host committees as well as the generosity of sponsors and donors. Long-time sponsors include Sentient Jet, Woody Creek Distillers, Aspen Magazine, the Aspen Times, and Aspen Eventworks.
Half of the proceeds from the annual fundraiser initially went to Autism Speaks, but as of 2016, all proceeds benefit Ascendigo Autism Services. The name has also evolved over the years. By changing from Light It Up Blue Aspen to Ascendigo Blue Aspen, it has become uniquely branded as Ascendigo Autism Services’ signature fundraiser–a fun evening supporting a great cause.
On February 17th at the St. Regis Aspen Resort, Ascendigo Autism Services is hosting its 20th anniversary of the Blue Aspen Benefit titled the “Great Gatsby Gala.” Come and celebrate two decades of Ascendigo Autism Services with a glamorous evening that includes interactive 1920s-themed entertainment! The extraordinary Walton Stout Band will help elevate the evening for dancing and celebration. Comedian Miler Ford and the entertainers from Art of Air will also perform at the prestigious event.
There are plenty of opportunities to be involved, including sponsorship opportunities at the corporate and individual levels, donations towards the auction, volunteering, and more. For more information about this event, please contact email@example.com.
To donate to Ascendigo Autism Services, click here.
Planning on Attending Ascendigo Blue Aspen? Stay with Frias Properties
If you are planning on attending the benefit for Ascendigo’s Autism Services to enjoy an amazing night of entertainment while supporting a worthy cause, make sure to reserve your vacation rental with Frias Properties.