Tigers to host Autism Awareness Day
Club, Jack's Place teaming up for special Monday event
Tigers broadcaster and former catcher Jim Price put his work into Jack's Place to provide children affected by autism with a chance to enjoy a fuller, more enjoyable life. On Monday, Price and the Tigers are hoping to provide a great night for a lot of kids, parents and donors at the ballpark.
Once again, the Tigers and Jack's Place are teaming up for Autism Awareness Day at Comerica Park, designed to raise spirits, donations and awareness of a condition that affects, by some estimates, as many as one per 150 children born. This year's event takes place around Monday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Orioles.
Price and his wife, Lisa, created Jack's Place seven years ago and named it after encountering all the challenges parents face when they were trying to find support and meet the needs of their own son, Jack. It wasn't just about diagnosis and care, but services, education and even activities. In many ways, they felt like they were fighting a battle by themselves, even though so many others were encountering the same difficulties with their own kids.
To have a child diagnosed with autism felt like having their child denied a quality of life. Yet research suggests that early diagnosis and intervention, such as educational settings, can help affected kids develop communication, social and cognitive skills. As important as it is to try to find a cure, they wanted to do something for those who are living with it.
"We wanted to help the kids that are already here," Price said. "We want them to have a quality life. That's why we created the foundation."
For parents, Jack's Place provides support, education and resources to help them help their children, as well as networking so that parents can talk with each other, trade ideas and simply support one another.
For kids, the goal is to provide programs and activities, from sports to science, and the arts.
On Autism Awareness Day, several kids will have a chance to go to Comerica Park, take the field and meet the players prior to the game. Many of those children will come from the renowned Burger School for Students with Autism in Garden City, Mich., the largest school for autistic children in the United States. The Detroit Tigers ticket donation program is providing 400 tickets free of charge for families dealing with autism.
"There'll be a lot of people there thanks to the Tigers," Price said.
Meanwhile, the event will also help raise funds for the foundation through an event with the Tigers. Hall of Famer Al Kaline will join fellow Tigers greats Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, Gates Brown and Dan Petry as well as former Major Leaguer Rick Leach to meet and greet fans as part of a ticket package offered through the foundation. That event has sold out every year, as it did again quickly this time around.
The hope is that money raised will help the foundation branch out to help parents and children in other parts of Michigan and take some of the services they provide to a statewide level.
"Through the years, we've raised a lot of money and created programs for people affected with autism and gave them opportunities to play all sports, science, dance, art and theater programs," said Price.
For more information on Autism Awareness Day, call Jack's Place at 248-443-7427, or visit jacksplaceforautism.com.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.