Autism Awareness Event Is a Slam Dunk
The third annual Light It Up and Back the Blue Autism Awareness Event was held at Plano East HS on April 7th. The day started with performances that included cheer teams, dance, singing, written word readings, mime ministry and more. The main event of the day was the undefeated Panther Pride Special Olympics basketball team taking on the Plano and Murphy police department on the court. The Panther Pride team remained unbeaten and cruised to a 54-14 win over the police department team. The highlight of the day took place at halftime as players, cheerleaders, refs and fans came together for a giant dance party on the court displaying the true nature of the event.
Event coordinator and PESH special education teacher Anthony Ruttenburg reported the event raised over $1,500. The funds will be used to help the special olympics athletes make the trip to the State Games in Arlington, TX in May. Ruttenburg, who is a special education teacher at PESH, noted "the participants in this event give so much of themselves and the event wouldn't be possible without the our supporters." A few of those include Jose Sierra (aka DJ Chulo) from KNON 89.3 FM who donated his time at every game, J’s Pancake House and Grill in Plano, Plano West, Plano East, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, Plano Deputy Mayor Ron Kelley, Plano Police Department, Murphy Police Department and co sponsor of the event Dominique Cares. When asked why this event is so important Ruttenburg said "As the father of a 11 year old son with Autism I have made it my life mission to be the voice for the voiceless and an advocate for those who need advocating. I would like the community to know that this event is just one way to show our support for the autistic community as well as the special need community as a whole" We encourage everyone to watch for details on the event next year and to make plans to attend.
The athletes participating included: Basketball team- Tyler Chandler, Collin Crow, Jose Martinez, Carson Parker, Garrison Cox, Ryan Vo, Geraud Crowder, Diana Aguero, Sienna Bulo, Michael Gatson, Horacio Mondragon, Jesus Contreras, Rashiem Davis, James Lee, Cassandra Almholt. Cheerleaders- Kimberly Perez, Candace Bell, La’Tyra Benson, Ariel Chan, Rose Roady, Sarah Sokolich