On April 2 each year, the Thompson Center joins Autism Speaks to promote World Autism Awareness Day through the Light It Up Blue campaign. In 2015, University of Missouri campus locations and buildings throughout Columbia were lit with blue lights to promote acceptance and awareness with the international community of people with autism spectrum disorders. Truman and his buddy TJ joined the community awareness event at the MU Student Center, followed by a brief walk at dusk to Memorial Union. Inside the Student Center, volunteers awarded prizes to attendees, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and dropped balloons.
Francisco Lopez, 7, discovers the multiple textures of Truman the Tiger at Light It Up Blue in the MU Student Center. He was joined by his little brother and his parents.
Blue balloons fall from the second floor of the Student Center. The balloons were released simultaneously with the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, a part of University of Missouri Health Care, recognizes National Autism Day with blue lights on the south side of University Hospital. Named after Dr. Ellis Fischel, a physician who envisioned a statewide plan for controlling cancer, the hospital was dedicated on April 26, 1940, as the first cancer center west of the Mississippi River.
Parents and kids were allowed to play with and keep the balloons that had been released after the ribbon cutting at Light It Up Blue. The leftover balloons were collected, and everyone walked over to Memorial Union to close the event.
August Engelhardt, 17 months, hugs T.J. the Tiger from MU Children's Hospital at the beginning of the Light It Up Blue event. August's mom was amazed that he was so excited to hug T.J.
Each participant at Light It Up Blue received a raffle ticket in order to be entered to receive a prize. Prizes included laptop cases, tumblers, T-shirts and more.
Alicia Curran, coordinator from the Thompson Center, speaks to Light It Up Blue participants about how the event will work. Curran's son has autism, and she remains very involved with and supportive of him.
Families, volunteers, Truman, TJ and other autism allies pose for a group portrait on the west side of the Memorial Union archway.
Francisco Lopez's family poses for a photo with Truman the Tiger at Memorial Union just after the conclusion of the Light It Up Blue event. Each family had the opportunity to get their photos taken with both Truman and T.J.
Howard Meehan’s “Keys to the City” sculpture glows blue at the City Hall addition at Broadway and Eighth Street. The 19-foot-tall, 16-foot wide sculpture is made of structural steel and placed atop concrete bases containing color-changing LEDs.