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What This Wildcat did for a Boy With Autism Will Melt Your Heart

May 01, 2015

Kimberly Rae Reynolds Mimnaugh is a mother of two: a daughter, Katie, and a son, Shaun, who has autism.

Her children are huge fans of Kentucky Wildcats guard Devin Booker: he is their hero. Booker recently announced himself for the NBA draft, and while on a signing tour in Lexington, Kimberly brought her family to the area to try to set up a special meeting. She shared her story with Autism Speaks.

My son, Shaun, is four years old and he has autism spectrum disorder. My daughter, Katie, and Shaun have a special bond and that bond became stronger over watching their favorite team, The Kentucky Wildcats, and a particular player, Devin Booker.

They loved this player so much Katie designed our autism shirt around Booker and their Wildcats. We went to Lexington, Kentucky to hopefully meet my babies' hero and we had no idea this would happen or not because Booker had declared to go to the NBA draft and became very busy, but as a mom I decided to give it a try.

Before all this happened Devin became very involved with Shaun and Katie through Twitter; he would favorite and retweet whatever Katie posted about her brother.

Katie would send him messages through her Twitter account letting him know what we were doing and that we were hoping to meet him before we left. On our last night, April 20, she received a message from Devin saying he wanted to meet and to direct message him the address.

The two young boys showed up at our hotel lobby within 10 minutes. We met them outside and as soon as Shaun saw him, he said "Booker."

They were absolutely wonderful, they took pics, they signed autographs and Booker spent some time with Shaun.

Shaun's communication skills are also a noted difficulty and his speech is very limited, so when he said "Booker" I almost cried. People throughout the state of Kentucky refer to Devin as the "Booker Baby" and Booker calls Shaun his "little man."

I was a little nervous about the meeting because I didn't know how Shaun would react with Booker, but to my surprise the bond between him and Booker was instant. Shaun would not let Booker out of his grasp, and Booker held onto Shaun. It was like seeing a big brother with his little brother, no fear, just love and a strong instant connection.

Booker has continued to reach out and stay involved with Shaun since the meeting. We gave Booker autism awareness wristbands to give to the other players, and he did. We also gave him a shirt to celebrate Shaun and autism awareness.

I wanted to share this story because this showed me what true heroes are and how a little boy, who really struggled to make connections with anyone, connected so fast and so strong with his hero and how this wonderful young man truly bonded with this little boy.

Every year in Febuary NCAA coaches get together to raise funds and autism awareness during the Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward initiative. Coaches can be seen wearing the Autism Speaks puzzle piece pins during televised games.