Ashley Drayton is the founder of the House of Artists Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports artists with autism, successfully completed their 1st Annual Fantastic Movie Run 10K, during Autism Awareness Month. The race commenced at 7 a.m. on Powder Springs City Hall in Powder Springs, Georgia. Participants dressed up as their favorite superhero.
The race opened with an official welcome to the metro Atlanta city by Al Thurman, Mayor of Powder Springs. The post-race block party was held at Powder Springs First United Methodist Church and it was a blast. it featured a special appearance from Harry The Hawk and the Atlanta Hawks Flight Crew, DJ K-Threat, live performances by Thomas Academy of Dance, a ukulele performance by Jaidyn Wright, a soul-stirring vocal performance by Bonita. Fire Station 23’s truck was available for tours and photo ops, McEachern High School National Art Honor Society hosted face paintings.Artist, actor, storyteller and body painter Marjorie Ocho Kouns served as the host.
Here, Drayton shares here story how she started the organization and how the walk came to life.
Please describe your role.
I am the founder and president of House of Artists Foundation. As founder, I created the foundation in 2015-with an established 501(c)(3) status in Feb of 2016. As president, I oversee all foundation goals with an elite team of established board members.
What is the mission of your organization?
Our mission: A 501(c)(3) non profit that supports individuals with autism, specifically artists with autism through film, television, photography, illustrations, etc. Our organization continues to bring light to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – affecting 1% of the world’s population and more than 3.5 million Americans – and the entertainment professionals who continue to create and inspire through their craft, despite their daily struggle with this disorder. Most importantly we bring appreciation and recognition to a community of autistic artists who are not often brought into the light for their valuable contribution to the entertainment industry.
How does autism personally affect you?
I have a cousin who’s autistic and I saw his daily struggles with the disorder however he’s a creative genius. I also used to work with children with disabilities beyond the spectrum in high school and always wanted to make a difference in their lives once I got older.
What gave you the idea to do the walk?
Because I’m also a professional actress, their passion to create immediately caught my attention as it became a coping mechanism for individuals on the spectrum. Their artistic insight inspires me daily and our goal is to shine light and enhance what’s already creatively present and for autistic artists to be gainfully & respectfully employed in the entertainment industry.
With April being Autism Awareness month, several events were taking place however a 10K race was missing. House of Artists Foundation is very different compared to any other non profit that supports individuals on the spectrum. That being said, we wanted to continue our community efforts and awareness and not do a typical 5K route that most people are already familiar with but expand their potential to successfully compete an unfamiliar 10k route in the heart of downtown Powder Springs, GA. Having an Peachtree Road Race official qualifying 10K race during Autism Awareness Month allowed runners to gage their current run time for the upcoming Peachtree Road Race- which is the largest 10K race in the world taking place in downtown Atlanta, GA.
How many participants? Did it meet or exceed your expectations?
At the inaugural Fantastic Movie Run 10K, we had over 100 participants that helped make the event a success from sponsors like Pinewood Atlanta Studios, The Resource Guild, The Home Depot, Walmart, Costco Wholesale, New York Film Academy, The Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Company including runners, volunteers, city officials and more. The support was absolutely incredible- meeting and exceeding our overall goal.
The community is now, more than ever, aware of our foundation and what we do. Collaborations and phenomenal partnerships are on the rise and brands are jumping on board and assisting in the efforts to make sure Artists with Autism continue to thrive!
Check out the event’s photo gallery.