Inspired by a local teenager, the Colgate women’s hockey team has launched a fundraising project that already is providing dividends for autism awareness.
The team partnered with Autism Speaks U, a part of the national organization Autism Speaks, to create a local chapter and raise money for research and for local organizations – The Kelberman Center, Family Resource Network, and The Oz Project – that assist individuals and families affected by autism.
As part of the project, the team will wear special puzzle-piece jerseys during this weekend’s games against Rensselaer and Union that will be auctioned online after the games.
The team will debut the jerseys at 7 p.m. Friday against RPI and fans are urged to help “Light Up Starr Rink Blue.” The first 250 fans at the game will receive a free T-shirt and any fan wearing blue, the color of autism, will be admitted free.
The team also has created online puzzles through Autism Speaks. Each player has a puzzle, and friends, families, and supporters can purchase a piece for just $10.
• More information is available at www.colgate.edu/autism
“Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States in which there is no cure or medical detection,” said coach Scott Wiley. “It is our goal to make as many people aware as possible and have a positive impact on those families affected by autism.”
Wiley explained that Kati Williams, a teen from Norwich, N.Y., has been an avid fan of the women’s hockey program for several years and now is team manager. She has Asperger’s syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
“She is at the heart of this project,” said Wiley. “We see what being at the rink means to her, and we see what resources these local groups provide her and others. This is the team’s way to help these organizations do their amazing work.”
Wiley said nearly $4,000 has been raised so far, in just a few days, and he has received numerous phone calls and e-mails from those interested in helping out and learning more.