Autism Speaks teams up with NCAA basketball coaches, broadcasters and fans for Coaches Powering Forward
NEW YORK (January 25, 2018) – Scores of college basketball coaches will wear Autism Speaks blue puzzle-piece pins the weekend of February 9 through 11, when the organization teams up with NCAA Basketball for Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward. The annual campaign enlists coaches, teams, schools, broadcasters and fans to raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of people with autism and their families. Fans can join the campaign and receive pins by registering at AutismSpeaks.org/coaches.
NCAA basketball coaches Pat Skerry of Towson University, in Maryland, and Tom Herrion of the University of South Florida spearhead the campaign. Inspired by their sons who have autism, Skerry and Herrion started Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward in 2014 by making a simple request of their fellow coaches: Wear the Autism Speaks pin during televised games the first weekend of February. More than 80 NCAA coaches and broadcasters responded. Since then, participation has soared to include nearly 400 coaches and staff, as well as some from high school programs. In 2017, almost 4,000 pins were distributed.
“This is the fifth season of Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward, and I’m so proud of how participation has grown,” said Pat Skerry, head coach of the Towson University men’s basketball team. “Having the backing of Autism Speaks and partnering with all the other coaches brings more exposure to a cause that‘s very important to Tom and me.”
“We’re grateful for the outpouring of support we have received, especially from our fellow coaches and media personalities across the country,” Coach Herrion added. “This project is obviously dear to my heart and Pat’s, as we recognize the impact autism has on so many individuals and families.”
“Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward is a true grassroots effort,” said Angela Geiger, president and CEO of Autism Speaks. “Coaches Skerry and Herrion are advocates in every sense of the word. They’ve also become great ambassadors for Autism Speaks’ mission by participating in events across the country that increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.”
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Most are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. We empower people with autism and their families with resources, online tools and information covering the life span. Go to AutismSpeaks.org to learn more, donate or join a fundraising walk.