About Gary Jesch%22What matters is that children with autism can thrive and enjoy meaningful lives with our help.%22
The spark of intention to help children with autism caught fire with Gary Jesch in about 1997, when he was researching facial expressions and body language for his live animation performances in the trade show and corporate meeting arenas. He came across articles by Dr. Rosalind Picard of MIT’s Media Lab and her work with children who were autistic and learning-disabled. She was exploring how animation helped connect them with their outside world, and it aligned with Jesch’s own work as a live animation performer.
17 years later, his company CHOPS purchased the ToonMX live animation software source code and within a few months, Jesch began a new journey, excited to deliver high-quality, real-time animation on small, high-powered, Windows-based PC computers and laptops to the world of those who live with autism. With more than two dozen of his own characters and supported by many helpful and kind volunteers, he’s now expanding to offer his own software products.
Gary Jesch has worn all the hats as owner of GNJ Worldwide, Inc, and its business units – CHOPS & Assoc. Live Animation, CHOPS Webcasting and Invirtua. He’s been performing as avatars, designing characters, guiding software engineering, creating marketing and sales business processes, setting up websites, conducting webinars and broadcasting live video events. On the new Autism Community website, his programs will include live webcasts where he interviews thought-leaders and helps parents understand the many aspects of his 3D Digital Puppeteer technology.
Invirtua is his newest venture, in healthcare and support of families of autistic children, where he plans to bring computer-based virtual reality and computer-generated characters to a variety of methods for assisting those experiencing ASD. Jesch and company will also seek scientific validation through research projects at major universities, such as the University of Nevada-Reno (his alma mater), Yale and Stanford.
Gary’s past work with meeting planners, trade show event managers, and Fortune 500 corporate clients took him on the road for about 15 years, to China, the Philippines, South America, Mexico, Europe and all over the US. In 2008, he designed and installed two of his 3D Digital Puppeteer ™ systems in Family Entertainment Centers – one in central California and one at the Mall of Asia in the Philippines. One of his greatest adventure in live animation was realized in 2008, when he created a custom cartoon character and performed for Disney Event Group in Orlando.
In his spare time in the summer, Gary runs with the wind on his 18-foot catamaran over the deepest waters of Lake Tahoe, near his home in Carson City, NV. In the winter, he is skiing the slopes of the Sierra Nevadas in northern Nevada. His wife Sue is an extraordinary violin and orchestra teacher in Carson City, who established a “Strings in the Schools” program for about 150 schoolchildren yearly, under the auspices of the Carson City Symphony.
In this video below, Gary and autism therapists Enid Webb and Nancy Barcal test the waters of avatar land with young Cody, and learn that he’s already seeing himself as an “Avateer,” a person who controls live animated characters in real time.