BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - Groups supporting people with autism are fielding dozens of calls from people touched by a local ice bucket challenge attack.
The parents of a Bay Village teen with autism contacted police last week saying he had a bucket of human waste poured on him.
A criminal investigation by police has revealed the incident took place August 18 at a home in Bay Village, and authorities have identified five teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 who were involved.
Police expect to finish the investigation this week, and will then present the case to prosecutors for potential charges.
Dean Valore, who is representing the family of the victim, said Wednesday his office has received dozens of letters and emails of support, and he has been contacted by comedian and Cleveland-native Drew Carey, who is interested in helping.
Groups like Autism Speaks have received thousands of dollars in donations. Autism Speaks set up an informational booth at Bay High School last week.
The national organization supports autism research, family services and advocacy.
“It's been a huge response. We've gotten emails and calls from Australia, England, all over the country, families wanting to know how they can help,” said Shari Goldberg, Northeast Ohio Chapter President for Autism Speaks
Celebrities Michael Symon and Bay Village native Patricia Heaton have reached out to the local chapter of autism speaks.
Goldberg said Heaton is planning to record a video message in response to the incident, to be shown at Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Progressive Field this Sunday.
There will be a focus on the Bay Village incident at the event, with participation by Bay High School students.
“We’re just trying to send a positive message that we can turn this around, that this really heinous negative thing can become a positive,” Goldberg said.
Milestones Autism Resources in Beachwood provides resources for families of those with autism including education, coaching and connecting Executive Director Ilana Hoffer Skoff said she hopes this can foster deeper understanding of people with disabilities.
“What we want to see is that people aren't just aware there are other people but they learn to interact and support each other,” Hoffer Skoff said.
Hoffer Skoff said Milestones is working with another organization on training and educational programs for Bay High School.