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Perry High School football player heading up fundraiser to benefit autism group – The News-Herald

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A co-captain of the Perry High School football team is carrying out a game plan to raise funds for an area organization that serves people with autism.
Jaden Hacking has organized an autism awareness event that’s being held in conjunction with Perry’s Sept. 9 home football game versus Chagrin Falls.
Fans who attend the game, slated for 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium, can make financial donations at ticket booths and concession stands to benefit Spark Specialized Services. The organization supports children and adults from Northeast Ohio who have developmental disabilities and/or are on the autism spectrum.
In addition, the King Kone ice cream shop will have its truck at the game to serve spectators. The business will make a donation from sales proceeds to aid Spark Specialized Services.
Hacking works at the King Kone location in Perry Township, and during one of his shifts, clients from Spark stopped by to get ice cream.
“I thought is was so cool seeing how excited they were to be there and how awesome it would be to help them have more opportunities for more experiences with the community,” he said. “The next day while lifting weights at football practice, it came to me that our team could do something really cool, by working together to raise funds.”
Hacking said his teammates all were excited about helping to increase awareness about autism. In fact, co-captain Brian Cox, who owns and operates a business called BC Motivational Apparel, helped Hacking come up with a design for T-shirts commemorating the event.
Proceeds from the sale of those shirts are being given to Spark Specialized Services.
In addition, Hacking got a positive response when he proposed the fundraiser to Perry High School football coach Bob Gecewich and Athletic Director T.J. Rockwell.
“They were extremely supportive and helpful,” Hacking said. “I am lucky to have an amazing support system behind me.”
Although sales of the special T-shirts ended in late August, Hacking urged anyone who bought the garments to wear them to the Sept. 9 game.
“It will be awesome to show support to our VIP guest from Spark in attendance,” he said.
A promotional flier created for the event said donations will help Spark clients to enjoy activities such as miniature golf, bowling, pumpkin carving and Christmas crafts.
Spark Specialized Services operates group homes in North Perry Village and Madison Village, and an adult day services program in Perry Township.
Mitchell VanDeweel, CEO and owner of Spark Specialized Services, is a 2012 graduate of Perry High School. VanDeweel expressed his gratitude to Hacking for putting together the fundraiser.
“We’re very blessed and thankful to have someone like Jaden who’s willing to give back to the community and go the extra mile to do something special for us,” said VanDeweel, who has an older brother with autism.
Hacking said he hopes the event also will enhance awareness about autism.
“It can help not just individuals with autism, but also make lives easier for families and caregivers,” he said. “In addition, we also enrich our society by accepting the wonderful differences that we all have.”
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