– WYANDOTTE WARRIOR
A Downriver restaurant owner has fulfilled the needs of a Wyandotte school that serves young autistic individuals.
Fredi Bello, better known as “Fredi the Pizzaman,” donated more than $4,200 worth of equipment to the Lincoln Center for use in the facility’s Sensory Room. The center serves students ages 5 to 26 with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cognitive Impairment/Emotional impairment.
Lincoln Center, located at 891 Goddard Road, was the 16th school to receive assistance from Bello and his Fredi the Pizzaman Foundation. Total donations have surpassed $29,000.
The center, which was established in 2000, services students from 17 Downriver school districts. The school has a goal of providing education opportunities that challenge students and respect all individuals. School staff believes that all students can learn and achieve academic success, the importance of lifelong learning and that parent/guardian involvement is essential to student success.
Bello said Lincoln staff reached out to his foundation in October with a letter about the school and the needs for the Sensory Room. He said he met with school officials and purchased the equipment.
Bello, whose Fredi the Pizzaman restaurant is in Melvindale, said he became aware of the needs of such facilities once his son Antonio was diagnosed with autism four years ago. Bello said he met with a teacher at Antonio’s school, Allen Academy, and began a campaign to raise funds to meet the needs of Allen and other facilities.
“I learned about the special teachers who want to teach children with special needs,” Bello said. “That’s when I wanted to help.”
Antonio, now 7, accompanied Bello, wife Romina and his siblings Alessandra and Adriana when the 52 pieces of equipment were delivered to Lincoln.
“The equipment purchased gives the kids a safe place to play and the equipment gives them a calming space and helps them refocus – which is the biggest focus of a sensory room,” Bello said.
Upcoming foundation fundraisers include an inaugural bowling and walk for autism on April 26 and a fifth annual golf outing on Aug. 1.
For more information, visit the website fredithepizzaman.com or the foundation Facebook page.
Lincoln Center Program Administrator Lauren Feigel said on the center’s website that staff provides “exciting and challenging opportunities for all students.”
“All of the staff at TLC are excited to support the students academically, socially and emotionally,” Feigel said. “Together we will develop and maintain a school culture that leads to student success.”