Friday, May 13, 2016

Summer's Coming!
(To download an application, highlight & right click on the link above)

It's hard to believe but the 2015-2016 school year is almost at an end!  This was our seventh full year of classes, and our most successful yet!  We've almost doubled in size, holding an average of 34 students in the school this year, and building our team to 8 wonderful professionals who work well with the students AND each other!  We are happy to add Ms. Deborah Thomas, a certified CDA to our staff, and re-welcome Ms. Rhonda, our teaching assistant back to the fold!  Both women have made a seamless entry into our program and have provided us all with much needed support!  We're hoping to see all 8 faculty members back NEXT fall!  Parents too have to complete an Intent to Enroll form to hold your spot for next year; these forms recently went home with your students.

Before we JUMP to the fall, let's talk about what your plans are for the summer.  There are two things we know for an absolute fact about kids on the spectrum:
          1)  They require a predictable, stable daily schedule - though they might tell you they like unscheduled time, and video game marathons, what we KNOW about these children is that this type of unpredictable schedule spikes their anxiety. Starting your very first day of summer, you should have a daily schedule, even at home.  Parcel out computer and TV time in between chores, bike rides, and outdoor activities - I used to even include arts and crafts!
          2)  Our students can easily lose the academic skills they stop practicing!  No matter what your plans are for the summer, you need to include time each week, maybe just an hour or two a day to practice their skills - there are a number of Summer-based workbooks that help your child bridge the skills they learned this past year with what they will be expected to have mastered by their next grade.  These books can be purchased at any local bookstore and include small daily activities AND some have great summer science experiments so the kids can make crafts and interact with their learning.  These are great because they don't take up too much of your summer, but you know they aren't losing their vital skill set for next year.

One idea I saw on Facebook, suggests that you give your children a chore list to complete in order to get the daily WiFi access code.  I think that's a great idea!!  Whatever you do, remember that a summer on the computer is not what's best for our kids - no matter how they beg!

Finally, we have Camp CHASE available for all families with autism and their siblings!  Starting June 20th, we have a weekly-themed day camp.  Week I begins Animals Attack with all sorts of games, crafts and activities to help kids discover more about animals!  Each week we begin a new theme, and we offer both a partial week ($75) or a full week ($125) option.  You can book a week or the whole summer!  Ms. April is our Camp Director and Ms. Amy has taken such care to develop summer themes that spark imagination and engage kids of all ages.  

 Whatever you do, know that we continue to work all summer towards our accreditation (our initial audit is this June), and on developing the life-skills component of the new high school.  Above all, I wish you family a restful and safe summer!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Evening with Victor Wainwright 

Celebrating International Autism Awareness!

We proudly introduce our silent auction, incorporating baskets of goods & services from local purveyors, and in partnership with Charity Fundraising, we also present a selection of framed, certified authentic autographed memorabilia from  rock, movies, country & sports celebrities.  Each item comes with a certificate of authenticity and a counterfeit-proof licensed authentication hologram from the forensic authentication firm RM Real. Finally, we are proud to partner with Winspire, Inc to bring you six one-of-a-kind vacation excursions!  Please read below on how YOU can participate in this auction!

Authentic Autographed Selections Include:

                The Beatles
Minimum Bid: $900

 The Eagles                  
Minimum Bid: $700

         The Rolling Stones 
                   Minimum Bid: $ 1000


 Michael Jackson
Minimum Bid: $500

              Taylor Swift  
Minimum Bid: 500
Star Wars Trilogy Poster      
Minimum Bid:  $800
    "Original" Star Trek
Minimum Bid: $700
 Apollo 11 Crew
Minimum Bid: $900

Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline"
Minimum Bid: $500
           Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Minimum Bid: $500
Dale Earnhardt Jr.       
Minimum Bid: $400
"Bono" Self-portrait
Minimum Bid: $500
BB King- signed album                Aerosmith - signed album
      Minimum Bid: $500                                                        Minimum Bid: $700

Winspire Excursions Include:

Exotic Super Car Driving Experience, Las Vegas
Drive a REAL race car on a real track!
Includes a 3 night stay and airfare for 2 
Minimum Bid: $2400.00 /  Value: Priceless
New Orleans Jazz & Dining
Admission to Preservation Hall Jazz
Commander's Palace Brunch or Dinner & Wine Pairing
3 Nights stay and airfare for 2
Minimum Bid: $2850.00 /  Value: $5860.00
Sip & Soar through Napa Valley
Hot Air Balloon Ride for 2
Private Winery Tours & Tastings, Chaffeured
Meritage Resort & Spa - 3 nights & airfare for 2
Minimum Bid: $3800.00 / Value: Priceless

2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade!
  VIP Access & Buffet Breakfast
Private Indoor Viewing location above the parade 
Minimum Bid: $1800.00 /  Value: Priceless
 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony
Christmas 2016 VIP Cocktail Reception, Tree Lighting Viewing 
& Buffet Dinner for 2 
Minimum Bid: $ 1550.00 / Value: Priceless
The Players Championship 2017
Tickets for 2 to Saturday & Sunday; Hospitality Access 
Friday Tee Time for 2 at select course & 4 night stay for 2
TPC Sawgrass;  Ponte Vedre Beach, Florida 
Minimum Bid: $3600.00 / Value: Priceless
 We certainly hope you'll join us this year as we celebrate Autism Awareness around the world, and another great year for autism education right here in Volusia County!  Be sure to get your tickets @

Also, please note that if you'd like to support The Chase Academy by bidding on any of the above items, you can place your bid via email at or via text at 386-690-893.  Please include your name, phone number and bid price. We will update all items between now and April 2nd, and include hourly updates on our FACEBOOK page once the auction begins .  If there's an item you'd like to be kept updated on, please include which item you are interested in and we'll make sure you're updated on any offer received.

I hope to see you April 2nd!!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Chasin' our Dream: Celebrating a DECADE of Service!


The Dream began...

In the fall of 2005 my son Chase was 6, and in his second year of public school, attending a mild-ESE program for K-2.  I had already been through early intervention, neurology appointments, IEP meetings, and just recently, an evaluation with a pediatric neuro-psychologist.  I was exhausted and dissatisfied with my son's progress and with the professionals who handled him; most had never seen anyone like him.   It was agreed that he had Hi-Functioning Autism, and that he would be best served in an environment that specialized in Autism.  But where was that program in Volusia County?  Nowhere.

One day, my best-friend (Amy Filson) and I - both public school teachers - sat around and just brainstormed what WE would do if we could make a school for Chase.  Pretty soon, we were excited enough to start writing it down, and together with the help of my sister (Eileen Taft), we created a full business plan.  We created The Chase Academy, Inc., registered it as a non-profit in February of 2006, and The Chase Academy was born!!

        For the next three years, we would hold town hall meetings, recruit interested parents to help us find funding and a facility, and raised awareness among the Volusia County communities for autism, and our kids' educational needs. We also secured our 501(c)3 status, got approval to be a McKay school, and began searching for a team!  Luckily, in 2009 we were able to start a two-classroom program inside a church right here in South Daytona, with 9 children and PLENTY of parent volunteers; and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our first class of students
       We began as K-5 program, and grew one grade level a year.  Now, we hold K-10th grade, and with our accreditation process beginning hope to have an accredited K-12 program by this time next year!

But we haven't stopped dreaming...

     We have MORE plans, more growth, more dreams for The Chase Academy, and with it, we hope to build programs that will support our children through childhood and into adulthood.  This year we've seen phenomenal growth in enrollment, and the start of our sister organization CHASE Therapies.  Through this pair of non-profits we can better address the academic, social, and therapeutic needs of our children - a more holistic approach, if you will.  

     One of my favorite quotes is Ghandi's, "Become the change you wish to see in the world."  But more often I quote singer Melissa Etheridge, who sings, "When you become the change you seek, YOU change what happens tomorrow."  We never stop dreaming.  We never stop driving the change we want to see in the world.  

     Check with us in another decade and I promise you'll find that we solidified more than a few of these dreams and went on to dream some more.

Mimi Lundell

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chasin' the Brews on Saturday, November 21!

Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company

The Chase Academy partners with DeLand's Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company to raise funds to support our High School's accreditation efforts!  Our "celebrity" bartenders our pouring on their best efforts to get YOU to Tip for Autism!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 21st from 6 pm to 10 pm as local "celebrity" bartenders pour for YOUR tips to help Autism!  Your donations will determine who IS our Best Celebrity Bartender?!

Daniel Scire
Wells Fargo - Branch Manager
Our FIRST Celebrity Bartender Daniel Scire and his family are all long time Delandites!  Daniel grew up attending Stetson Baptist (where Ms. Mimi was his teacher!) before attending Deland High and Daytona State College. Many will recognize Daniel from his years as manager at Boston Coffee on New York Avenue or the Seminole Town Mall before joining Wells Fargo!

Two years ago Daniel re-established his relationship with The Chase Academy by nominating us for not one but TWO Community Grants, available through Wells Fargo Bank!  We were happy to receive these grant funds and to have Daniel back in touch!

Currently managing the Orange City branch, Daniel has a son named Austin, and he spends his free time running and traveling.  He recently returned from a long trip to Italy - the country of his people (mine too)!  IF YOU would like to donate in support of Daniel by "tipping" him online, just use our DONATE button, located on this page and tell us you're tipping Daniel in the comments!

Rachel Fleishman
Our SECOND Celebrity Bartender is Rachel Fleishman, long time Delandite and recent graduate of Rutger's University with her Bachelors in Communication.  Rachel also grew up in Deland and her parents are well-known.  Dr. Ivan Fleishman is a Psychologist whose private practice has been located in Deland for many years.  He works with many families on the spectrum and is a favorite guest speaker at our parent workshops!  Mom is an attorney, as are many of the Sands family; but best known may be grandma Renee Sands, who has led the Sands Theater, a community theater, for years.

In her free time, Rachel enjoys yoga, baseball and "reading a good book on the beach!"  IF YOU would like to donate in support of Rachel by "tipping" her online, just use our DONATE button, located on this page and tell us you're tipping Rachel in the comments!

Ben C. Collins
Founder of Collective Church
Our THIRD Celebrity Bartender Ben C. Collins is better known as the "mayor" of Deland! Ben is the founder and director of Collective Church, a congregation drawing people together on the thresholds of faith: those with their foot out the door and those hesitant to step in.  He is an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies department at Stetson University where he teaches Biblical Literature.

Ben and his wife Stacey have a four-year old daughter, June, and a one-year old son, Huck.  Ben is an athlete, musician, surfer and spends his free time eating, drinking and watching too much TV!  IF YOU would like to donate in support of Ben by "tipping" him online, just use our DONATE button, located on this page and tell us you're tipping Ben in the comments!

Come join the festivities on Saturday OR if you can't join us, tip your choice for Best Celebrity Bartender online!  Tip now, Tip often!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thank YOU Sponsors!!!

First Fun Friday of the Year!

As the Labor Day weekend marks the arrival of the new school year, I would like to take this moment to thank our COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS!  We can’t thank you enough, and I’d love to share with you what your financial support has made possible for our school!

This past academic year, our enrollment nearly doubled from our original 18 students to a year-end total of 32 enrolled students! We expanded our programs to include VPK students on the spectrum as well as our new high school – a class of 9th graders who have all now been promoted to 10th grade, with 100% student retention rate! This year’s biggest news is that we are applying for our high school accreditation! That means our students will graduate high school with the same SACS accreditation as a public high school, eligible for any college in the country!  Moreover, all of our high school students are BRIGHT FUTURE’S eligible so that most or all of their college is paid for by the State of Florida.

 This Fall, we continue many of our school’s annual traditions. We will have our Second Annual Science Fair, and we are intending to expand our competition to Volusia County for the first time. Also, students will once again perform in our annual Christmas Extravaganza!  Students dance, sing, tell jokes and spread holiday cheer in this one-of-a-kind talent show that our families love!  Of course, what would International Autism Awareness month be without our annual Chasin’the Blues fundraiser, held each April at Daytona’s legendary Bank & Blues Club? We are planning a repeat performance of our sold-out concert for celebrated blues pianist Victor Wainright.  Never before have we packed the house, with over 200 blues fans from all over the State of Florida!  Nor have we ever made more money at a single charitable event!

Now, more than ever, we need your financial support to help our students continue to have access our programs where diplomas and college can become a reality. We’ve got big plans for our students, and by partnering with you, we can make sure these kids become productive, contributing members of this community!Thank you once again for your support and please know we welcome your involvement in any capacity! By partnering with organizations like yours, we can shape our community’s future by changing the future for our students!

Please don’t hesitate to call or come by!

Miriam Lundell

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


THREE more days available for FALL REGISTRATION!

Call our Executive Director, Miriam Lundell, TODAY!  386-690-0893

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ADA Celebration

Join us in celebrating the ADA on July 22nd!
Disability Rights ARE Civil Rights.
Contact disAbility Solutions for Independent Living if you require tickets to the Jackie Robinson Ballpark game that is dedicated to the celebration (386-255-1812).