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Record-high fundraising for Fund-a-Need at 8th annual Winter Ball

Event participants raise nearly $250,000 for the CANDO Clinic; gift to be matched by anonymous donor

At the eighth annual Winter Ball on Dec. 2, 2016, nearly $250,000 was raised for the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) Clinic, the beneficiary of the Fund-a-Need segment of the event's live auction. This is the highest amount raised for a Fund-a-Need recipient in the history of the Winter Ball, and will be matched by an anonymous donor.

The CANDO Clinic is a collaborative effort by UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial that specializes in the diagnosis and interdisciplinary treatment of mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly complex cases. The monies raised at the 2016 event will support the Clinic in its efforts to alleviate the burden of mental illness on children and families.

According to national surveys, approximately 11 percent of children ages 8 to 11 and 22 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 suffer from a mental illness. In addition, the rates of certain neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism have been increasing over the past few decades. Yet only half of youth with a mental illness receive any behavioral health treatment.

Defined as disabilities associated with the functioning of the neurological system and brain, neurodevelopmental disorders are numerous, and include ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, intellectual disability and other developmental delays, as well as significant mental health disorders including psychosis, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. Difficulties with behavior, emotion regulation, language and speech, sensory processing, motor skills, learning, memory and more can result, which can adversely affect a child’s intellectual, social-emotional and physical development—and, thus, his or her ability to cope and thrive within the family, school programs and community.

Diagnosis and treatment are critical, particularly for youth diagnosed with multiple mental health conditions, as they are more susceptible to social pressures or bullying, impulsive behavior, poor problem-solving skills and depression. These are all risk factors for suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in teens—and rates in the U.S. have been on a steady rise since 2007, increasing by a staggering 140 percent for youth ages 10 to 14.