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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:02 PM

Grieving Newtown couple raises money for autism

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Josephine Gay's mother could not be with her in her final, harrowing minutes inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. She struggles with it every day, but she has taken comfort from learning that Josephine's aide wrapped her arms and body around her and other children, shielding them from the horror of a rampaging gunman.

The dying actions of Josephine's behavioral therapist, Rachel D'Avino, were hardly surprising to the girl's mother. D'Avino and other educators had close bonds with 7-year-old Josephine, who was autistic and could not speak.

"She protected them and provided them with comfort and love when they really needed it," Michele Gay said in an interview. "I can't say enough about the people that worked with Joey. They were amazing."

Despite the devotion of Josephine's aides, the family was constantly looking for resources to keep up the care they wanted. In her memory, Michele and Bob Gay have set up "Joey's Fund" through the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism to help other families raising children with autism.


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