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Special Needs College Fund

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A plumfund forRhys Cathey

$1,218 given of $56,000 goal

Special Needs College Fund

Started by: Donna Louise Cathey


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Did you know that 80% of autistic adults are unemployed according to Psychology Today, less than 2% of college students are autistic, and less than 20% of those students will complete college? All my life I have been fighting impossible odds and misperceptions about what I am capable of.

“He is below average intelligence.” This was the comment from the school psychologist when I was four years old and had been kicked out of three preschools. “He needs to sit in the back of the class so we can remove him whenever we need to,” my kindergarten teacher said. “Don’t go near Rhys. He has the Rhys touch,” was a popular game when I was in third grade. “He just needs to build a tougher skin so he's not so upset,” said my fifth-grade teacher when the boys picked on me every time we lined up for class. “We include him as much as we can,” said my choral teacher, sixth-grade teacher, and many more.

I have been struggling for acceptance and understanding my entire life. Because my behaviors, due to Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Prosopagnosia, Sensory Processing Disorder, and the list continues…, caused me to act differently I have been underestimated, insulted, and kicked out. I have been in almost every kind of therapy available since I was three-years-old.

My parents and family have never given up on me, so I can’t either. I sang my way into the Classical Voice Conservatory at Orange County School of the Arts, (my original composition: where my teachers and the Special Education staff always helped me and bullying is not tolerated. I have been given so many accommodations. I don’t know how I could have gotten through any other middle school and high school program. At my school, I have been the trailblazer for special needs. I plan to continue this pattern.

“He needs more support than we can provide.” This is the latest comment that is challenging me and my educational prospects. This comment, from one of the few colleges in our nation that specifically helps students with autism and ADHD, encapsulates the next challenge ahead of me. Even though I live in California, with so many public universities, NO community college, university, or college in California or nearby states offers enough support and assistance for me to succeed. In fact, there are only a few colleges that have programs for people like me, but those few colleges are all on the other side of the country, and even most of those do not provide sufficient supports.

Right now though, I need to go to a college that offers sufficient supports in daily living, mastering college, and succeeding in a job. Beacon College seems to be the only college in the nation that offers the level of support that I need to succeed. I applied and have been accepted!

Beacon College, amazingly enough, is not the most expensive college for special needs but is far more than I and my family have been able to raise. I am planning to attend Beacon College in the Fall of 2021. I am planning to obtain a bachelor's degree in computer science from Beacon College, and then with the skills they have taught me, move on to a public university to pursue a master's and Ph.D. My interests lie in Computers, Music, Math, and Science. I do not know where I will end up yet, but I ask and hope you will support me as I tackle the next hurdle.

Thank you for your time and support, Rhys Cathey



We are writing to you about our son, Rhys (pronounced Ree-ss). We, like other parents, dream of our children's accomplishments. When our son was three years old at a doctor’s visit, his golden curls bounced as he laughed and played with the toys on the floor. “He is autistic.” Those three little words changed our world. The moment we arrived home the tears started pouring and, for his mom, didn’t stop for more than 24 hours. All we could envision was a child spinning in circles and banging his head on the floor.

But then we realized, that’s not our boy. We won’t let it be our boy. We began researching and reading anything to learn more about how to help Rhys. We became therapists, doctors, teachers, special education experts, (let’s face it… helicopter parents), and diagnosticians. And we argued... We fought, advocated and persuaded for equal access to education, educational supports, safety, and all of Rhys’s needs at school and in the community.

Tuition at Beacon College per year is $42,000; room and board is another $14,000. These are unanticipated fees; we need to raise funds so that Rhys can get the education he needs to become a self-sufficient, independent adult to realize his dreams.

We hope you will help Rhys reach his potential. Thank you ~ Rhys's Parents, Donna & Oliver

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7 Supporters

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  • Alice Shooman Lebowitz3 days ago Wishing Rhys a wonderful future!
  • Sandy B.1 week ago I believe in you, Rhys!
  • Jacki1 week ago
  • Mara1 week ago Best wishes.
  • Melissa2 weeks ago
  • The Zemkes2 weeks ago
  • Anonymous2 weeks ago