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.
[slideshow:2, order=top, width=600, height=590, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/larry-cancro-and-bobby-valentine-sized.jpg|||Larry Cancro\, Senior Vice President of Fenway Affairs for the Red Sox\, beside Red Sox Manager\, Bobby Valentine. Larry was recognized for his continued dedication and commitment to Autism Speaks ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/wilson-family.jpg|||Bat girls for the day Katie and Brooke make up half of "Team Umizoomi" here with the other half of the team||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/autism-speaks-on-scoreboard.jpg|||Autism Speaks on scoreboard: During pre-game\, the Jamie McMurray PSA aired ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/wrights-sansones-and-david-corcoran-sized.jpg|||The Wrights met top Greater Boston fundraisers Bill and Beth Sansone (Team Katherine) and David Corcoran (Team Beacon) on the field. Team Katherine has raised over \$92\,000 since 2005 when their daughter\, Katherine\, was diagnosed. David Corcoran is currently the top fundraiser on Team Beacon and is the Director of Clinical Consultation Services at Beacon Services. Beacon Services was the Top Corporate Team on Walk Day in 2011 and sponsor the Kids' Korner ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/larry-wrights-kenny-sized.jpg|||Larry Cancro\, SVP of Fenway Affairs and Chairman of Greater Boston Chapter Board of Directors\, with Mr and Mrs Wright and Kenny. Kenny is a member of the Fenway Security team that Lauren and I met while heading to set-up our table. He got very emotional when we gave him a puzzle piece pin and he shared that his great nephew has autism and he was so excited that Fenway was hosting us. We then made arrangements for him to join Larry and the Wrights on the field. He was speechless and so grateful for the work that we do ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/dodgers_1.jpg|||Joe and Hunter Krause Representing Santa Barbara Walk's Team Hunter ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/blog/dodgers_2.jpg|||Dodger Catcher A.J. Ellis and a child ||]