The Boston Red Sox hosted more than 900 individuals, families and supporters of the autism community on Autism Awareness Day at Fenway Park in Boston on Sunday as part of Major League Baseball’s partnership with Autism Speaks. The Red Sox beat the Houston Astros, 6-1, on a glorious, sunny afternoon that began with the team’s special guests—kids and families affected by autism—taking part in the pre-game ceremonies, including throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, performing bat boy & girl duties, reading the Red Sox batting line-up and announcing “Play Ball!” at the start of the game.
For Brian Ferraro of Reading, MA, a lifelong Red Sox fan with a son, Ryan, on the autism spectrum, bringing his sons to Fenway Park on an ordinary day was not an option. “I’ve been wanting to come here (to Fenway) with my kids for a while—in fact, I have a younger child, who is a typical child, and it didn’t feel right just taking him. But now that we have days like this that are welcoming for the intimidated, I think it’s going to allow for more families, more families with autistic kids to attend wonderful games like this. I’m really thrilled to say that I have my two kids here with me for the first time in my life, a lifelong dream of mine.”
The Red Sox not only offered discounted tickets for their guests, invited them to participate in the pre-game ceremonies and asked autism self-advocate Gianna Hitsos, 17, of Groton, MA to sing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch, they also set up a special Quiet Zone for anyone who needed a break from the noise inside the ballpark.
A special thanks to Autism Speaks of Greater Boston’s official photographer, Kristin Chalmers of the Broad Spectrum Project, for capturing many of the special moments of the day. The full gallery can be seen online at http://kristinchalmersphotography.zenfolio.com/p357162722. To learn more about the Broad Spectrum Project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.