Autism advocates push to march in Cleveland's St. Patrick’s Day parade

There are 200 units scheduled to march in the parade, but a man with autism is disappointed he won't be in it. For now, anyway.

They are a growing army, advocates for those with autism.

Some were up in arms about not being able to be in Cleveland’s St. Patrick's Day parade.

There are 200 units in the parade itself, but a man with autism is disappointed he won't be in it.

For now, anyway.

Other autism awareness advocates like Robbie “Flair” Turek are helping him change that.

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His 17-year-old son, Dakota has autism.

"I have fought for my son his entire life because he can’t fight for himself," says Turek.

Robbie wanted Cody to march in Cleveland’s St. Patricks Day parade.

He planned to do it alongside John Keaney. Maybe you've seen Keaney, with his sign standing around town making sure autism awareness is front and center everywhere he goes.

He’s a one man band with autism himself.

"Because I think that autism is a very misunderstood, misrepresented disability," says Keaney.

But the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee sent him an email saying, “unfortunately we have decided to pass on your application".

Turek told WKYC Channel 3 News, "I feel like it wasn't even given a shot."

But St. Patrick’s Day Parade Executive Director, Shannon Corcoran explained, “We are absolutely fine with recognition being brought to various causes, as long as they comply with our rules."

Rule #1 is no "solicitation."

Turek says, "Awareness for an illness like autism is not solicitation."

But apparently their plan to reach out on their signs for publicity to Ellen DeGeneres IS solicitation.

"They wanted to be on the Ellen DeGeneres show. That detracts from the purpose of what the St. Patrick’s Day parade is and that is considered solicitation," Corcoran explains.

The next issue, Kearney applied as a solo marcher.

Corcoran points out there are "marching only" units allowed of course, but, "those groups are going to be the firefighters 300 strong or the pipefitters 70 people strong."

So Turek and Keaney are going to fix that.

"We're going to have a lot of people come march," says Turek.

But then there is also this from Corcoran: "The third thing he wanted to do is have a film crew film him going down the avenue and that is just not acceptable. That would disrupt or take away from what the St. Patrick’s day Parade is all about."

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"To me, at first, it felt like discrimination,” says Turek.

But now this dedicated dad admits he may have jumped the gun in going into autopilot as Cody's autism ambassador.

"I am kind of emotional about it because my blood, my son has it," Turek explains.

Corcoran gets it. She'll be waiting for their changes.

"We can reconsider their application, absolutely," Corcoran says.

The parade committee denied at least 10 other applications so far. Corcoran says they get too many applications to accept everyone.

John Keaney who has the hashtag #HelpingOthersWithAutism is reapplying with more names of marchers, hoping that will increase the odds of his application getting a green light this time.