RiverKings ‘Assists for Autism’ Helps to ‘Light It Up Blue,’ Raising Autism Awareness

By:Sylvia Petty
April 9, 2012

HERNANDO, Miss. -- More than 300 people took to the Hernando Square in celebration of World Autism Awareness Day at the Hernando High School Interact Club’s first ‘Light It Up Blue’ event, Monday April 2.

The Mississippi RiverKings ‘Assists for Autism’ charity campaign was a co-sponsor of the event. The team’s mascot, Sheldon, was on hand mingling with attendees, and the organization also brought out their inflatable slapshot hockey game.

Autism organizations and therapy groups such as Helping Hands Learning Academy and BOLD Initiative set up booths at the event, passing out information to families with autistic loved ones, as well as to educate everyone in attendance about autism.

The most recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that autism affects 1 in 88 American children. CDC studies show that autism is three to four times more common in boys than it is in girls.

Autism and autism spectrum disorder affect each person diagnosed in very different ways. Autism can be described as a group of complex disorders in regards to brain development.

Scientists and researchers do not yet fully understand what causes autism, and there is currently no cure.

For more information on autism and to find local support groups and therapy options, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

From Left: Keiia Clark, Office Manager of Helping Hands Learning Academy and Vargas Clark, CEO of the Academy at the ‘Light It Up Blue’ World Autism Awareness Day Celebration on Monday, April 2 on the Historic Hernando Square, in Hernando, Miss. Clark’s ‘Helping Hands’ academy is an early intervention center that works with children ages 1 to 5 years-old who have autism and other developmental delays.

Blue puzzle pieces lined the outer circumference of the Historic Hernando Square, for the first ‘Light It Up Blue’ event, celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on Monday, April 2. The puzzle piece is the official symbol for autism, and the event partially sponsored by the Mississippi RiverKings Assists for Autism charity campaign was organized by Hernando High School Interact Club students. The celebration hosted close to 400 area attendees, all the while raising autism awareness.

Mississippi RiverKings mascot Sheldon watching ‘Pizza Pie’ eating contestants, Justin Yow, Les Jones, Brandon Jones, Drew Liberto and Claiborne Myers at the first ‘Light It Up Blue’ World Autism Awareness Day Celebration on the Historic Hernando Square, Monday, April 2. The Hernando and Lewisburg High School students were attemptig to break the Guiness world record of eating a 12" pizza in less than 1 minute 9.36 seconds. The event was partially sponsored by the RiverKings Assists for Autism charity campaign.

After the pizza eating contest, the event's top finishers, students from Hernando High School and Lewisburg High School, stopped to pose for a picture at the ‘Light It Up Blue’ World Autism Awareness Day celebration on the Hernando Square, Monday, April 2. Back row (from left to right): Olajuwon Tanner (HHS), Victor McKinney (HHS), Brandon Jones (LHS), Drew Liberto (LHS), Dalton Crozier (HHS) and Adam Wyatt (HHS). Front row: Mississippi RiverKings mascot Sheldon, local Papa John’s owner Michael Hensley, Cecila Hensley, Angela Gregg (HHS Interact Sponsor & ‘Light It Up Blue’ co-coordinator) and Holly Neel (HHS Interact Sponsor & ‘Light It Up Blue’ co-coordinator).
Posted by Mississippi RiverKings at 4:21 PM

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