Autism awareness was a recurring theme throughout the regular baseball season thanks to the efforts of Major League Baseball. In addition to partnering with Autism Speaks for "Lead off for a Cure" - a special autism awareness month event held in April at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - several teams have stepped up to the plate for the autism community by hosting awareness days during games during the season.
Now it's the Red Sox turn at bat. Honored in April at the "Lead Off for a Cure" gala for its commitment to raising autism awareness, the Sox again teamed up with Autism Speaks to host an autism awareness night for a game on Friday, September 7 at Fenway Park. Despite a rain delay, honorary bat girls Brooke and Katie from Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism Speaks Boston "Team Umizoomi" took to the field. Joining the team for an on-field ceremony were Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, President of Autism Speaks Liz Feld and Senior Vice President of Fenway Affairs for the Red Sox Larry Cancro. Larry also serves as chairman of the Autism Speaks Greater Boston Chapter Board and is a founding member of the Greater Boston Walk Now for Autism Speaks. During the game, Autism Speaks PSAs aired, calling attention to 1 in 88 odds of a child being diagnosed with autism, and information booths with valuable resources were scattered throughout the stadium. Joey Voto, an 11 year old with Asperger's, and son of Greater Boston Walk Chair Melissa Voto, made the ceremonial "Play Ball" announcement prior to the game.
This evening's festivities reflect Major League Baseball's efforts to raise autism awareness. In May, the New York Mets hosted its annual autism awareness day at Citifield, which included an afternoon of activities for families affected by autism and resources to educate fans about being more compassionate to those with differences and how to recognize autism's early warning signs. The Dodgers followed suit in August, holding an Autism Speaks Night. The event featured a pregame ceremony, including Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men singing the national anthem (Stockman's son, Micah, has been diagnosed with autism), and Ari Greenburg throwing a ceremonial first pitch. Greenburg's family has raised more than $1 million for the LA Walk Now for Autism Speaks. A portion of the ticket proceeds from both the Mets and Dodgers games went to Autism Speaks' science and advocacy initiatives.