CHARLOTTE, NC (May 21) – NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler and Best Buy employees visited the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon to honor students for raising awareness and funds for autism, and for starting the first Student Club for Autism Speaks (SCAS) chapter in the southeast.
Sadler, driver of the No. 19 Best Buy Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, addressed a group of students who have raised funds for Autism Speaks to thank them for their efforts on behalf of a cause that's very dear to him.
“My nine year-old niece, Halie, was diagnosed with autism a little over six years ago,” Sadler told the students. “At the time, we didn't know what autism was. We literally had to look it up in an encyclopedia. Since then, we've worked very hard to raise awareness and funds to help those with autism. To see young people giving their time and effort to this cause means a lot. I'm honored to be here today to meet all of you, and I thank you for your hard work.”
Sadler was joined by representatives of Autism Speaks and NASCAR on FOX reporter Steve Byrnes at the event. Autism Speaks is the official charity of NASCAR on FOX, and the network is broadcasting the Best Buy 400 benefiting Student Clubs for Autism Speaks Sprint Cup race from Dover International Speedway on Sunday, June 1.
Sadler and Byrnes presented the group with a plaque in recognition of the students founding the first SCAS in the southeast. Best Buy employees donated products to help the club get started in the form of digital and video cameras, software and color printers, as well as a gift card. Sadler then added to the donation total when he announced a contribution from his charitable foundation to the SCAS chapter.
Afterwards, Byrnes and Sadler assisted students in their volunteer efforts by compiling information packets for an upcoming Walk Now for Autism event that will be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., in October.
Students then took Sadler and Byrnes on a tour of the facility, where they met students from the Academy of Medical Sciences and Biotechnology and fielded racing and automotive-related questions from students in the Academy of Engineering.
“This is really an amazing place,” Sadler said. “I've met some incredible people, from the principal and instructors to some really wonderful students. I've visited a lot of schools, but I've never seen anything like this. I'm very appreciative of what they're teaching these teenagers, not only in the classroom, but also in how to give back to the community.”
"The tremendous generosity Elliott, Best Buy and FOX showed today will enable this Student Club to make great strides in raising awareness and funds for autism," said Michelle Preslar, the Carolinas Walk Director for Autism Speaks. "And their recognition of the students' hard work will undoubtedly inspire other youth around the country to join or start a Student Club for Autism Speaks in their own school."
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
SCAS helps further the mission of Autism Speaks by creating the opportunity for students to engage and actively participate in positively affecting the lives of people with autism. Through education, awareness, friendship and fundraising, SCAS includes students at the middle school, high school and college level.
For more information about Autism Speaks, or to find out how to start a student club in your teenager's school, visit www.autismspeaks.org.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chairman and chief executive officer of NBC Universal for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.