In an effort to expedite and fund much needed expansion efforts at the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center, Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) and Foundation have announced plans for a live broadcasted telethon to be held on Thursday, January 21st.  The telethon is part of the kick-off of a fundraising campaign called “Speak from the Heart,” and proceeds will be used to fund the next expansion phase for the region’s only Autism center for children.

The telethon will be broadcast live on WYMT and streamed live on various other platforms from 7pm – 8pm on Thursday, January 21st.

“Contributions from businesses and individuals will make a tremendous difference in the lives of children on the autism spectrum here in our region,” explained PMC Vice President of the Board of Directors and CEO Donovan Blackburn.  “The gifts that are given now will echo throughout the entire lives of our learners at the AVA Center.  Each financial contribution will enable us to move forward with expansion efforts, allowing us to impact the lives of many more children who desperately need this life-changing ABA therapy.”

The AVA Center is the first comprehensive center of its kind in Eastern Kentucky to offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech, Occupational, and Feeding Therapies for children on the Autism Spectrum. PMC’s multi-disciplinary teams are equipped to offer families unrivaled expertise in understanding and meeting the needs of toddlers and children with autism and related challenges.

Proceeds from the Speak from the Heart Telethon will be used toward funding Phases 4 and 5 of the center’s expansion.  Upon completion of these phases, the AVA Center will be equipped with state-of-the-art high tech sensory rooms, over 35 additional therapy rooms, an indoor specialized gymnasium, observation rooms, and social interaction rooms totaling over 25,000 sq. ft.

“The AVA Center was developed in response to the overwhelming need to bridge the gap in healthcare for children with autism,” said PMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Aaron Crum. “Families in our region were having to travel several hours or even move for their child to have access to therapy.”

Crum added that the AVA Center is the perfect companion for the new PMC Children’s Hospital now under construction and part of a company-wide initiative to enhance pediatric services on all levels.

According to statistics, approximately 1 in 54 children has been identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. One metro hospital a couple of hours from Pikeville has reported diagnosing and currently seeing as many as 150 Pike County children with Autism.

The Speak from the Heart campaign is a significant step to assist us in keeping up with the growing demand from our learners and their families.  Here are some ways you can help the AVA Center and those in our region who desperately need its services:

  • Visit
  • Participate in the telethon on Facebook Live on January 21st from 7pm-8pm at Pikeville Medical Center’s Facebook Page (
  • Share this event & spread the word through your social media channels.
  • Invite friends, family, and members of your community to watch.
  • Post on social media during the broadcast and on the day of the event using the hashtag speakfromtheheart
  • Donate as an individual


For more information, contact Andrew H. Scott, Executive Director for the Pikeville Medical Center Foundation for Quality Healthcare at 606-794-3312 or email