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Piedmont boy with autism raises funds for Autism Society

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Family members are probably used to getting long birthday wish lists from kids that are loaded with video games or electronic devices. But the 10-year-old Skylar Dean is different.

"He is always thinking something, caring about people. He is a very caring young man," Skylar's aunt, Shenika Fuller said.

Even at Union Hill Elementary, Skylar thinks about others.

"He has that push to help other children," Principal Shayla Savage said. "It's a trait that will take him very far in life."

Although Skylar is known for having a big heart, this family didn't think that would extend to his birthday wish list.

"God knows how far this is going to go," Fuller said.

Instead of asking for people to buy him gifts, Skylar said he wants people to donate to a cause that means so much to him.

"I wanted to do something nice for the Autism Society, for kids like me," Skylar said.

So on his Facebook page, Skylar started a fundraiser for the Autism Society of North Carolina. It's a fundraiser his family had no idea he was doing.

"Normally when you have a special needs child, they are used to people giving to them," Fuller said. "We taught Skylar to not think about himself, think about others."

In a short period of time, Skylar has raced past his $200 goal. Greensboro Swarm Account Executive Jamaal Brown met Skylar at one of the team's NBA G League games. Brown thinks Skylar's personality on Facebook is probably the reason why so many people are visiting and donating to Skylar's cause.

"His enthusiasm, energy, passion, you see it, you feel it," Brown said.

The staff at the Autism Society of North Carolina are just as shocked that Skylar's fundraiser has been so successful.

"It doesn't happen that often and I think that's what makes it so amazing that a 10-year-old would want to do something like that for us," Autism Society of North Carolina Regional Director Marianne Nadeau said. "Most 10-year-olds would take the gifts, but he wants people to donate to us so we can help more families."

Skylar will present a check to the Autism Society of North Carolina during halftime of the March 9 Greensboro Swarm basketball game. March 9 is also Skylar's 11th birthday.

In North Carolina, one in 57 children may be diagnosed with autism.

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