By Michelle Key
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller issued a proclamation last week designating April 1, 2021 as “OTown Jake Day,” honoring Opelikian Jake Helms. Helms, age 21, has autism and he and his family have spent the past 10 years bringing autism awareness and acceptance to Opelika through “Going Blue for Autism” events during the month of April each year.
Helms was diagnosed with autism in 2002 and while he is considered non-verbal, he does have a lot to say. He often communicates with an augmentative communication device.
In spite of the communication challenges that Helms faces every day, he enjoys volunteering around the city of Opelika. Keep Opelika Beautiful is one organization that Helms volunteers for with the Adopt-a-Mile program. He helps keep that mile and others clean throughout the year. Recently, he helped raise money for a sensory project at Storybook Farm and also for the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama with a Purple Pumpkin project last fall.