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Capitals Host Second Annual Autism Awareness Night

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Team raises nearly $35,000 for charity


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Capitals, in conjunction with Athletes Against Autism (Triple A), Cure Autism Now (CAN) and the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA), hosted their second annual Autism Awareness Night at the Caps game against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Verizon Center. Ticket sales and a silent auction helped raise nearly $35,000 for the fight against autism.

Derek and Kim Hardman
 Derek and Kim Hardman
The silent auction featured game-used equipment such as goaltender Olie Kolzig’s pads, catching glove, blocker and stick; left wing Alex Ovechkin’s helmet and stick; captain Chris Clark’s helmet and stick; left wing Alexander Semin’s stick; left wing Matt Pettinger’s helmet; and left wing Donald Brashear’s stick. The auction raised $21,950 for Triple A, an initiative of Cure Autism Now that was founded by Kolzig to raise awareness and funds for autism research, treatment and family support programs. Three items raised at least $4,000: Kolzig’s pads raised $4,500, his catching glove brought in $4,200 and Ovechkin’s helmet raised $4,000.

The evening began with an on-ice pregame ceremony honoring Kolzig for his commitment to the community, re-presenting the 2006 King Clancy Award that Kolzig received from the NHL in June. The evening’s special events also included a check presentation to Athletes Against Autism and special hockey intermission games.

A portion of the proceeds from all tickets purchased through a link on the Capitals’ website was donated to Triple A, CAN and the ASHA. Kolzig also hosted a group that had won the chance to meet the goaltender after the game through a CAN fundraiser.

“Our second annual Autism Awareness Night was a tremendous success,” Kolzig said. “I’m proud that we were able to hold the first of these events last year, and this year it was bigger and better. We are spreading the word about autism and making a difference by raising awareness of this disorder.”

Autism Awareness Night included scrimmages during both intermissions featuring players from ASHA’s Washington Ice Dogs and NOVA Cool Cats. DC101’s Elliot Segal and Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis presented Athletes Against Autism co-founder and former Caps goaltender Byron Dafoe with a check in the amount of $21,174, money that was raised for Triple A through the 2005-06 Olie’s and Elliot’s Great Saves program.

Kolzig’s fellow co-founders of Athletes Against Autism were also in attendance Jan. 6: Atlanta forward Scott Mellanby and Dafoe. The Capitals were the first team in the NHL to host an Autism Awareness Night when, at Kolzig’s suggestion, they held the event Dec. 27, 2005. That event raised $26,000 to benefit the fight against autism.

Pro-rated full-season tickets and 11-game plans are available for the balance of the 2006-07 season and can be purchased through the Caps PowerPay option – monthly payments with no fees or charges. Call 202-266-CAPS, email ticketsales@washcaps.com or visit WashingtonCaps.com for more information. Single-game tickets are on sale at WashingtonCaps.com and at ticketmaster.com.

About Athletes Against Autism
Athletes Against Autism was founded by a group of athletes, touched by autism, who are harnessing their efforts into one voice in order to raise awareness and funds for autism research, treatment and family support programs. For more information about Athletes Against Autism, visit www.athletesagainstautism.org.

About Cure Autism Now
Cure Autism Now is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and funding autism research and accelerating the pace of scientific progress toward effective treatments and a cure for autism. The organization is one of the leading private funders of biomedical research in autism, providing more than $25 million for research grants, education, outreach and scientific resources, including the establishment and ongoing support of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE). Cure Autism Now has chapters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hawaii, Houston, Los Angeles, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C./Baltimore. For more information about Cure Autism Now, visit www.cureautismnow.org.

About American Special Hockey Association
Special Hockey exists for the enrichment of the athlete with a developmental disability. In addition to physical hockey skills, the program emphasizes the development of desirable individual characteristics such as dependability, self-reliance, concentration, willingness to share and personal accountability. The game of hockey is used by Special Hockey to develop within each player the characteristics that will help the player to be more successful both inside and outside a hockey
environment. For more information about American Special Hockey Association, visit www.americanspecialhockey.org.

About Autism
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that now affects an estimated one in every 166 children in the United States. Autism is commonly diagnosed by the age three, and in some cases, as early as one year. Characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills, social interactions, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, children with autism can exhibit symptoms that run from mild to severe with widely differing symptom profiles.
Full-season tickets, weekend plans and 11-game plans are available and can be purchased through the Caps PowerPay option – monthly payments with no fees or charges. Gift Packs – two tickets to four preselected games – are also on sale now. Call 202-266-CAPS, email ticketsales@washcaps.com or visit WashingtonCaps.com for more information. Single-game tickets are on sale atWashingtonCaps.com and at ticketmaster.com.
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