(May 5, 2014) -- Led by their General Manager, John Schneider and his wife Traci, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks have spent much of the off-season serving the Washington state autism community. Schneider's 12-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.
“This is a very personal cause for us because of our son Ben,” Traci Schneider told Seahawks.com.
Traci and John Schneider with sons Ben (left) and Jack
"So we always knew this is where we wanted to give back," she said in the Seahawks.com interview. "We wanted to give back to the parents and to the families because we live it and we know what that’s like. And we couldn’t imagine not having the capability to do what you need to do for your child, because health insurance isn’t mandated to cover autism services and the state doesn’t have a program for kids with autism."
Washington is one of just 13 states not to require health insurers to cover medically necessary treatment for autism. However, a Seattle law firm has won a string of class action lawsuits against insurers to gain coverage under Washington's Mental Health Parity Act.
The Schneiders responded in 2012, by creating Ben’s Fund, a nonprofit that awards grants to families to help pay for summer camps, speech therapy, therapy swings and weighted blankets. See article in SeattleMet.
The Seahawks players have responded by taking part in three annual Prime Time Celebrity Waiter events to raise money for Ben's Fund. The event raised $250,000 in 2012 and $275,000 in 2013. Among the celebrity waiters were the quarterback/center duo of Russell Wilson and Max Unger, and defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.