ARLINGTON, Va. –The Washington Capitals raised $18,080 for Athletes Against Autism as the team hosted its third annual Autism Awareness Day on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Verizon Center. The first team in the National Hockey League to hold this event in collaboration with Athletes Against Autism, Washington’s inaugural Autism Awareness Night on Dec. 27, 2005, helped spark 13 other teams to hold similar events. Nearly $75,000 has been raised at the Capitals’ Autism Awareness Nights to support the charity since its beginning.
The 2008 Autism Awareness Day featured a silent auction to benefit Athletes Against Autism, an initiative of Autism Speaks that was co-founded by Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig. The Capitals auctioned off unique, practice-worn jerseys featuring Athletes Against Autism patches on the front with players’ names and numbers on the back, worked into the Autism Speaks trademark puzzle piece. The jerseys were worn during the team’s morning skate on Feb. 20. Each jersey was autographed and auctioned off with a framed photograph of the player wearing his jersey.
The silent auction raised $17,775 for Athletes Against Autism. Six players’ practice jerseys raised $1,000 or more: Alex Ovechkin
, Olie Kolzig, Brooks Laich
, Nicklas Backstrom
, Eric Fehr and Mike Green
. Ovechkin’s jersey received the auction’s top bid at $1,800. The Caps raised an additional $305 by selling the same Athletes Against Autism patches that were featured on the jerseys.
American Special Hockey Association teams took part in Mites on Ice during the first intermission of the Capitals game. Kolzig hosted members of American Special Hockey in his special section at Verizon Center, Olie’s All-Stars. A portion of tickets purchased through the Capitals website will also be donated to Autism Speaks, Athletes Against Autism and the American Special Hockey Association. 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 Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.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.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that now affects an estimated one in every 150 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.