By Deion Broxton
The Towson University men’s basketball team is joining other campus and local area organizations to help raise awareness about autism.
The team shed its traditional black-and-gold uniform for a powder blue version during a game on Feb. 7 that was billed as Light it up Blue Basketball game.
Team members also attended the Walk Now for Autism Speaks last fall and attended the Football Frenxi flag football fundraising event last spring. Both of those events were sponsored by the sorority Alpha Xi Delta (AXiD), which has made Autism Speaks part of its philanthropic mission.
“It is definitely helpful to join up with other organizations when it comes to spreading awareness and acceptance, because you are just able to cover so much more ground, and reach many more people,” said Lydia Ramsey, who is the vice president of programs for AXiD.
Katherine Holman, who is a special education teacher and Autism Speaks moderator at Towson, said the autism awareness basketball game was a “jumpstart to campus wide awareness.” She described Towson as being or becoming an institution that promotes autistic people as people who can live fulfilling lives.
“It has made me more understanding, sensitive and caring about people and how they learn,” said Pat Skerry, the Towson men’s basketball coach who has a son with autism. “It is a duty and an advantage to use basketball as a platform for a specific cause, especially an important one like autism.”
“Basketball has made the biggest impact in promoting autism,” Holman said. “The more autism impacts people personally, the more they want to get involved.”
Holman, who began her career with autism at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, helped develop a master’s program at Towson to help prepare future teachers in the area of autism and other special needs.
Holman said the Towson team is not alone, adding that several other NCAA basketball coaches have been seen wearing blue ribbons to signify their support for autism awareness.
Autism Speaks holds numerous events spreading the awareness of autism at Towson and other areas in Baltimore County. Autism Speaks also works with other organizations at Towson University to spread autism awareness, such as AXiD.
Ramsey said the sorority raised nearly $12,000 in last fall’s annual Baltimore Walk Now for Autism Speaks.