BALTIMORE, Md. – In addition to the final game for the NABC Coaches Vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge for the Goucher College players, the Gophers men's basketball coaching staff will join over 350 programs across the country in wearing a puzzle piece lapel pin over the weekend of February 15-17 for Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward to help raise awareness for Autism.
Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward was created in 2014 after NCAA Coaches Pat Skerry and Tom Herrion embarked on a mission to raise awareness of autism. Inspired by their sons, both diagnosed with autism, they made a simple request to fellow coaches: Wear the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece pin during the televised February weekend games. In an overwhelming response, more than 82 NCAA coaches and broadcasters took to the sidelines and airwaves throughout the weekend wearing the puzzle pin.
By 2018, the support soared to 375 NCAA coaches wearing the pins and more than 420 schools showing their support of people with autism. Today autism affects 1 in 59 children in the U.S. and more than 70 million people worldwide.
The 2019 goal is to continue to grow this initiative to include all Division I programs, along with other divisions and provide basketball coaches, their teams and schools with an even greater opportunity to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.
Autism spectrum disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development that impacts a person's ability to communicate and socialize. Individuals with autism often have repetitive behaviors and debilitating medical issues. For millions of people worldwide, autism is a household word – a word surrounded by a lifetime of unanswered questions, challenges and personal costs to the families and individuals affected.