CHICAGO (CBS) — For Michele and Peter Doyle, a trip to the doctor’s office with their daughter Caelan in 2006 changed their lives forever.

“We kinda knew early on that there was something going on. There was a little bit of delay with her social interaction,” said Doyle.

Caelan was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. She became part of the one in 68 children now affected. In fact, autism rates climbed nearly 30 percent between 2008 and 2010 and have more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s become an epidemic,” said Doyle. As they looked for care for Caelan Doyle and his wife soon realized how expensive treatment and therapy can be, most not covered by insurance.

“An autism family will spend a million dollars throughout the lifetime of their child being autistic on either therapies, medications, certain foods they give them, it’s very, very expensive.”

That’s why they formed Rescue our Angels six years ago. It started out as a small grassroots effort with a few family members and friends, now it’s become an organization that has raised almost a half a million dollars for families affected by autism.

“We are completely blown away at what this has become. It’s the one thing that we really feel we are giving back. We feel so good that we are paying it forward and making a difference in the autism community.”

What’s still unknown is the driver of that increase. Many experts believe the rise is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis rather than a true increase in the number of children with the condition.

“We just want to continue to drive awareness, we want to continue to help families who are affected by autism and hopefully one day, there will be some kind of cure, some diagnosed as to why this is being caused so these rates don’t continue going up.”

This year’s fundraising event will be May 9. Tickets are available through the website The celebrity filled extravaganza helps Generation Rescue give grants to families affect by autism who have trouble affording the expensive bio-medical treatments