ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - A local Boy Scout, who just did something very brave, is already affecting people all over the world. It's a first-of-its-kind video for his Eagle Scout project. We found this week's Romona's Kid in Elyria.
16-year-old Michael Whary noticed how out of all the videos about autism, there really weren't any for parents. That's when he got the idea for his Eagle project.
"When they first find out that their child is autistic, it often leads to grief and depression and they have a hard time getting over it," said Michael. "My video, what I hope for it, is to help parents get out of their grief a little quicker and start on the early intervention, and early intervention is the key to autism success in life."
The video shows Michael is a typical teenage boy: an honor student, in the marching band, and on the track team, as well as scouting. It also shows he's in good company; famous people with autism include Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Marie Curie, Andy Warhol, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah, Woody Allen, and Bill Gates. (Mobile users click here to watch.)
Doctors had said Michael would never drive a car, ride a motorcycle or even a bike.
"They said I couldn't ride a bicycle, boy were they wrong!" exclaimed Michael.
"The best thing about it is that it sends a message that autism is not something you need to worry about, it's something you need to embrace," explained Tom Faska, principal at Midview High School, where Michael is a sophomore.
"I'm still shocked at how many views it's gotten right now, and it's been viewed in 155 countries already," Michael shared.
The video also features kids at the Developmental Center in Amherst, where Michael went to school as a child.
"The message is so important and I know it's already helped people. We've had responses that have really been so heartfelt and encouraging," said Judi Whary, Michael's mother.
"As a scout leader, we always hope to get one child that we hear about, 20 or 30 years down the road, that may have made a difference in one person's life," said assistant scoutmaster Glen Thompson. "Here we are with Michael, still in high school, and he's already made a difference in thousands of lives."
"Honestly, I hope that this video reaches out to every parent with an autistic child and gives them hope for their children to have a bright future," Michael said.