GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Autism affects one in 58 people in North Carolina, and people in the East are trying to bring more awareness to it.
Sunday was the third annual Autism Awareness game for the ECU Pirates at Minges Coliseum.
The goal of Sunday’s autism-friendly pregame ahead of the basketball game against UConn was to bring awareness for people like six-year-old Samuel.
“Diagnosed when he was 18 months old,” Samuel’s dad, Kyle Robinson said “Those that aren’t as fortunate have some disorders and some needs that they have. We can be their voice.”
Robinson is the director of basketball operations for ECU.
“As a father it is really cool because sometimes kids that have disabilities go unnoticed,” Robinson said. “There are football players, tennis players, other student athletes here, letting them dunk the ball, pass the ball and giving them high fives.”
Groups from all over campus came together to hang out with the kids by playing jump rope and trying out Snapchat filters.
Other parents like Tina Weldon said the pregame was a slam dunk.
“The face-painting, they turned him into bumble bee,” Weldon said. “He is excited to see the game, and we are excited to watch the game.”
Players wore new Adidas jerseys with the Aces for Autism puzzle piece symbol.
“Doing this on a national stage on ESPN brings great awareness,” Robinson said.
Robinson said he hopes to give a voice to his son, Samuel, and other people with the same diagnosis.
“He has come a long way because a lot of people have stepped up to help him and his path,” Robinson said. “A family can’t do it alone, so they need support around them, and our family has been fortunate enough to have that support.”
The game was a whiteout for awareness and the children formed the spirit tunnel for players to enter the arena.