Autism Awareness Inspires World’s Largest Blanket Fort in San Antonio

A 55,000-square-foot blanket fort took over Toyota Field on Saturday, constructed by volunteers to promote awareness of autism by claiming a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

About 500 blankets and 3,000 feet of plastic pipe were used to make the fort, which easily surpassed the previous blanket-fort record of 3,303 square feet, set by a fort built in 2015.

Autism Uncovered volunteers construct the world's largest blanket fort for autism awareness at Toyota Field.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Autism Uncovered volunteers construct the world’s largest blanket fort for autism awareness at Toyota Field.

The community event called Autism Uncovered was created to bring attention to the importance of early intervention for children diagnosed with autism and to the growing need for autism services in San Antonio. Specifically, the group aimed to spread the word about treatments available at the Autism Treatment Center, which has locations in San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth.

Autism Treatment Center Development Director Cynthia Hamilton.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Cynthia Hamilton, Autism Treatment Center’s development director.

“We received over 700 blankets,” said Cynthia Hamilton, director of development at the Autism Treatment Center. Event organizers collected blanket donations throughout the city.

Autism Uncovered was held in conjunction with AccessAbility Fest, where nearly 100 organizations and businesses highlighted the services they provide and share information, resources, ideas, and support among people with disabilities. In its 11th year, the festival seeks to advance public attitudes about and awareness of people with diagnosed disabilities.

On Friday, 100 volunteers spent three hours constructing the pipe frame of the blanket fort, Hamilton said. An additional 150 volunteers signed up to complete the fort by adding blankets Saturday.

In order to officially beat the record, a professional surveyor was on site to confirm that the fort met all criteria, and witnesses signed statements confirming that they did indeed see the biggest blanket fort in the world. (Click through gallery below to see more images from the event).

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Madalyn Cooper, 9, beats on an exercise ball as part of the Drums Alive program at AccessAbility Fest.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Asa Hart (center) dances as the blanket fort is being built.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Leia Garcia, 4, learns sign language at the Alamo City Interpreters booth at AccessAbility Fest.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Taressa Reid, a Samuel Clemens High School dance team member, unrolls blankets to construct the blanket fort.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Melanie Cawthon, DisABILITYsa’s co-founder and executive director, at AccessAbility Fest.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Zoe Garza, 7; Kyra Garza, 11; and Vicky Garza sign the Wall of Hope for austism awareness at AccessAbility Fest.

The Autism Treatment Center owns and operates seven residential group homes throughout San Antonio that are funded and licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Texas Health and Human Services. The organization also offers educational resources, services for adults on the autism spectrum, diagnostic evaluation, therapy, and community awareness outreach programs.

After dismantling the blanket fort, organizers planned to donate the plastic pipe to Habitat for Humanity and the blankets to Haven for Hope.

Leave a Reply

Reset Password