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Tampa Bay Rays Host Autism Awareness Day 2013!

On Saturday, May 11th the Tampa Bay Rays welcomed autism families and friends to Autism Awareness Day at Tropicana Field.

The Tampa Bay Rays hosted more than 500 individuals, families and supporters of the autism community on Autism Awareness Day at Tropicana Field on Saturday, May 11, as part of Major League Baseball’s partnership with Autism Speaks. The Tampa Bay Rays played the San Diego Padres, on a glorious evening 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 and performing Honorary Bat Kid duties.

Leading Tampa Bay volunteers, Stephen Genuardi, threw out the first pitch and Caroline Gaboury served as Honorary Ball Kid. Walk Now for Autism Speaks honored this year’s top three Walk fundraising teams. Team Strivin’ for Stephen, Team Caroline and Johnny’s Angels were presented with Certificates of Appreciation by Walk co-Chairs Julie Reyes and Dion Stoltzfoos, and Media co-Chair, Kate Martin, in recognition of their fundraising efforts which combined, raised nearly $30,000.

Tampa Bay Rays baseball player, Sean Rodrigues and his wife, Giselle, who have a child with autism, proudly stood with Walk leadership during these opening ceremonies.

Tampa Bay Rays provided autism families a spectacular area to use as a Quiet Room before and during the game. "My family and I had a great time at the Rays game on Saturday,” volunteer and Walk co-chairman Dion Stoltzfoos told us. “If it were not for the quiet room, sensory friendly seating in the Press Level Reserved area, and other special accommodations provided I would not have dreamed of my son attending a baseball game.” This opportunity, along with discounted tickets, afforded hundreds of autism families to enjoy a beautiful and sensory-friendly afternoon enjoying America's Sport.

The Tampa Bay Rays not only offered discounted tickets for their guests, invited them to participate in the pre-game ceremonies. They set up a special Quiet Zone for anyone who needed a break from the noise inside the ballpark.

Special thanks go to Major League Baseball, which has teamed up with Autism Speaks in a league-wide effort to raise autism awareness. All 30 MLB Clubs will raise awareness for the disorder during one home game during the regular season. Many of the MLB Autism Awareness games throughout the league will provide special opportunities and a safe, friendly environment for families and individuals affected by autism. For more information about MLB Autism Awareness and to check on respective Club dates commemorating the initiative, please check out MLB's site here.

Stephen Genuardi throws out the first pitch