Todd Bender, a correspondent for Hudson Valley Post, will be jumping out of a plane from 13,500 feet on April 22 as a participant in Greystone Programs' Leap for Autism. Fortunately, he will be jumping with a parachute as part of a tandem skydive to help raise funds and awareness as part of Autism Awareness Month.

"One in 68 American children is diagnosed with Autism," says Skip Pryce, CEO of Greystone Programs. "This pervasive developmental disorder not only affects tens of millions of people worldwide but also hits home here in the Hudson Valley."

Todd Bender, who also serves a board member for Dutchess Outreach is always willing to help people who are in need which prompted him to help Greystone with this event.

The 2nd annual Leap for Autism, hosted by Greystone Programs, allows participants that raise a minimum of $500 to skydive at Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner. The public is invited to join in the air or on the ground. Amateur skydivers will skydive "tandem," harnessed to a licensed professional skydiver. Those who do not want to get on a plane can participate as part of the "ground crew" where food, fun, and music will available as they wait for the daring skydivers to return safely to the earth.

Greystone Programs serves more than 500 children, adults, and families in five Hudson Valley counties. Funds raised through this unique event will support Greystone Programs' Expressive Arts programs and other unfunded services.

When asked why he was participating, Bender said "I'm a thrill seeker. Besides, I knew that many of my acquaintances would be more than happy to donate money to see me get thrown out of a plane. So far, they haven't disappointed me."

The event is sponsored by Gold's Gym of Dutchess County, Morehead Honda, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, and several other generous supporters.

To learn more about this event or to contribute to Todd's fundraising campaign, visit

For information on Greystone Programs and how they served their clients, go to

More From Hudson Valley Post