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MRFA ON CTV Morning Show, Ottawa, July 13, 2015 re this year's
ride on July 18, 2015

MRFA and QuickStart was on CTV Breakfast Show, July 26, 2013

MRFA and QuickStart on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, July 26, 2013

Ottawa Community News - Nepean/Barrhaven News - July 11, 2013

Motorcycle ride to be first fundraiser for autism program

By Jennifer McIntosh

News -Dave Kunhle, grandfather of two girls who have recently been diagnosed with autism, decided he wasn't going to sit around while they waited to start speech and occupational therapy with QuickStart, he would get on his motorcycle and start raising money.

Kunhle said he participates in the annual Ride for Dad, so when his two granddaughters, Josie, 3 and Sofia, 16 months, were diagnosed with autism, he wanted to do what he could to raise money for the program that will help them develop skills and coping mechanisms.

Kim Kunhle, Dave's daughter-inlaw, said Josie's diagnosis came in January 2013. Kim and her husband Kevin, who live just outside Carleton Place, had noticed that she wasn't meeting some of her developmental milestones.

"She was having meltdowns, very similar to temper tantrums, but more severe," Kim said. "She had started speaking and then stopped. She also stopped pointing and waving."

Kim said when her husband first broached the subject of autism, she was very resistant.

"I really didn't know anything," she said. "I told him that it was impossible she had it; only boys get it." They had started looking for help in May 2012, but met with resistance when their family doctor wouldn't recommend the test for autism.

Dave said when the diagnosis came, he congratulated his son and daughter-in-law, not because of the disorder, but because with answers, they could develop a plan for the future.

Long waiting lists for assessments through the Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre and even longer ones for treatment leave a lot of parents frustrated said QuickStart founder Suzanne Jacobson.

And thanks in part to QuickStart's early intervention program Kim's youngest daughter Sofia was diagnosed in April, something Dave said was devastating.

"I just saw the burden it was to raise one child with autism and to see that doubled...Kevin and Kim are my heroes," he said, adding that he's happy to see his granddaughters able to get the help they need.

"There has been a remarkable improvement in Josie in the last six months," Dave said.

The first Motorcycle Ride for Autism is set to kick off Oct. 6 at 9 a.m. The 227-kilometre route starts at the Holiday Inn Express in Bells Corners and will take riders to Smiths Falls, Westport and Almonte before winding back to the Best Western on Robertson Road.

Dave said he doesn't have a financial goal in mind, but Ride for Dad had 57 riders in their first year.

"If we get that many I will be happy," he said. "We should be able to raise $10,000."

Jacobson said every dollar helps. The charity, based in Kanata, started with Jacobson's two grandsons. The first, Alexander, now nine, didn't receive treatment for autism until he was four-and-a-half. He waited 10 months for a diagnosis and then another two years for intensive therapy.

When the family began to have questions about his younger brother Nathan, they paid privately for assessment and therapy. That got things going faster and now at four, he's fully integrated into his school.

QuickStart works with parents to fast track a diagnosis and then begins speech and occupational therapy to make gains while parents wait for the intensive therapy available through the public system.

They use a modified applied behaviour analysis therapy called Denver therapy, that uses the principle of replacing undesired behaviour with desired, but at a level toddlers can comprehend.

Even QuickStart has a wait list now though, Jacobson said, adding the ideal timeline for diagnosis is two months, and then another six weeks before therapy starts.

As the number of children with autism continues to grow - the Centre for Disease Control in the United States says about one in 88 are somewhere on the autism spectrum - society will have to find ways to cope. "If we don't find a way to deal with autism earlier in life we are going to have more cases like Amanda Telford who had to give up custody of her autistic son," Jacobson said, referring to an Ottawa woman who left her severely autistic son at an Ontario government office.

QuickStart funds itself through a series of fundraisers and donations - that's why events like the motorcycle ride are so important. The people who work for the program are all volunteers.

"That way we can have more money going to help the children," Jacobson said.

For more information on the ride, visit For more on the program, visit

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Motorcycle Ride for Autism, Ottawa