Team Oscar Prepares for PieceWalk

Saldana Family--2017 Wichita Annual Dance

Team Oscar, the Anadarko area fund-raising team for Autism Oklahoma's "PieceWalk," has made significant steps in autism awareness over the past year. Driven by the efforts of tribal member Oscar Saldana and his family, the team brought over 80 members to last year's event. Many of the team members were students from Anadarko Public Schools who arrived by bus.


Since last May, the team has continued to hold fund-raisers toward this year's PieceWalk on May 5, 2018, at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.


"We want to put something positive out there for our community," said Oscar's mother, Melonie Saldana. "I think Team Oscar will get everybody involved for a good cause. Autism awareness is a good way to do that."


Since last year, the team's fund-raisers have included a concession stand at the August 2017 Wichita Annual Dance and the Trail of Terror on Oct. 28, 2017, held at the Wichita Tribal Complex.


At press time, Team Oscar had a total of 28 team members registered through the website. Saldana said that she wants to see at least three school buses of students arrive this year to support the cause.


"Last year, all of the money we made went to Autism Oklahoma," Saldana said. "This year, what we want to do is we want to raise money for that, but to also raise a little money for our team so we can try to feed people that come and walk with Oscar, to show our appreciation for supporting him. We want to have a little extra so we're able to feed the people that want to eat with us that day after the walk."


One of the goals of Team Oscar is to bring autism awareness and education into the schools, as well as to eventually create a support group in the Anadarko area for families who have autistic children.


"We can get something going here," Saldana said. "Even if it's just one night a month for families here who have a kid with autism-or any disability-to be able and just come and unload. It's really important. A lot of people don't have that."


This year, Team Oscar was recognized for its efforts when Saldana was asked to be one of five featured speakers at an Autism Oklahoma event on January 26 in Oklahoma City. Saldana said that she was nervous at first. However, when her son Oscar agreed to go on stage with her, everything fell into place.


"Once he walked up there with me, everything just went away," Saldana said. "I was able to talk about our team, our community, Oscar's future, and everything we're looking forward to-the good things that come out of PieceWalk."


Another major accomplishment for Team Oscar this year didn't have as much to do with fund-raising as it does with the hard work of Oscar himself. On Feb. 19, 2018, Oscar was accepted to be a student at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, Okla. With plans on studying music, Oscar auditioned for the USAO music program four days later with the tuba. Now, Oscar practices with the USAO band and will perform with them for the university's spring concert this April.


Oscar also applied to the university's Neill-Wint Center for Neurodiversity. According to their web page, the center assists autism spectrum students in the "transition to college life and help ensure post-secondary success."


The final fund-raising events before PieceWalk include this year's Team Oscar t-shirt sales and an Indian taco sale beginning at 11:00 a.m. Friday, March 30 at J.J. Methvin Methodist Church, 400 E. Broadway in Anadarko.


Those interested in being a part of Team Oscar are encouraged by Saldana to register through the website.


"Oscar is an awesome person," Saldana said. "He is very passionate about autism awareness. It's definitely important to him. People should join because it brings awareness about autism in our community."


For more information on the taco sale, please call 405-638-4257.