Community Reacts to Chili's Decision to Cancel Autism Awareness Event

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Chili's restaurants nationwide canceled a giveback event for the National Autism Association due to its controversial stand on child vaccinations, which led to a social media outcry.

Marybeth Clarke's daughter, Maryellen, has autism and has really improved recently.

"Behavioral issues that I believe she used to cope. And now, she walks to the bus all by herself and she is making friends," said Marybeth.

Chili's canceled its fundraiser due to the National Autism Association's stance against vaccinations.

"Have made the people who don't believe that vaccines cause autism relieved, but then they upset the people who do believe that. So it was a no-win situation," said Marybeth.

Many of our Facebook fans had strong opinions about Chili's decision to cancel the event.

Regardless of vaccination views, autism advocates want answers.

"Bottom line is, we want to know why," said Marybeth, "We are constantly being told it's the autism gene, which nobody has found yet. It's the environment."

Chili's does plan to hold a separate fundraising event to support autism awareness, just not with the NAA.

Chili's wouldn't speak on camera, but did release a statement on its Facebook page. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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