ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — Six years ago, Dru Powell’s life changed forever when his then-2-year old son Parker was diagnosed with Autism.
“It can’t get any more personal than having your son diagnosed. When you’re sat down in a chair and told your son has autism, you think of a million different things. What will their future look like,” said Powell.
The Thompson head basketball coach shifted his thinking from having doubts, to making a difference.
“My wife and I brainstormed and thought of ways that we could increase awareness across our state.”
That’s when the Powell family began “Shooting 2 Change.”
“It’s an autism awareness event that we ask coaches across the state to wear t-shirts in support of autism awareness,” said Powell. “It’s grown each and every year, now we’ve got complete teams wearing shirts, we’ve got college coaches and teams wearing shirts, it’s been really fun to see.”
Thompson held it’s annual “Shooting 2 Change” game against Pelham – dozens of children with special needs were treated to a VIP experience that included autograph signings, running out with the team and pregame introductions.
“As a player, it’s a life-changing experience. Just to see all the different types of kids that come and support Thompson basketball. All is one family and just enjoying the experience together,” said Thompson forward Tre Roberson. “It changes everybody’s lives as we go throughout the game and throughout the whole night.”
“You can’t look at somebody and tell whether they have autism, you never know what all they’re dealing with. One week it may be sensory issues, another week it may be something different,” said Powell. “For us it’s very personal, but hopefully we are having a great impact across the state for many, many families.”
Thompson beat Pelham Friday night, but the much bigger victory was the overwhelming support for autism awareness and acceptance.
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