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Lindsay honored for work against autism

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay, with his wife Joanne, recently received an award for his commitment in the fight against autism. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – An 11-time NHL all-star, Ted Lindsay hauled in his fair share of hockey hardware, which included four Stanley Cup championships and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 1950.

But the man, who produced double the amount of penalty minutes than he did points in a 17-season playing career, was honored this week for his selfless work to raise awareness and much needed funds for research in the fight against autism.

Lindsay was among five honorees to receive recognition at the St. Nicholas Institute Awards banquet at the Sacred Heart Banquet and Conference Center in Livonia this week. He received the Spirit of St. Nicholas Award for his outstanding contributions in the war against autism.

The founder and CEO of the Ted Lindsay Foundation, now in its 12th year, he has raised more than $2 million in the crusade to combat this debilitating condition.

You’re always appreciative to anything that you get in life,” Lindsay said. “It’s recognition for my work with autism, though I’m not looking for that. … But I’ve always been interested in the research to find out what’s creating this epidemic in Europe, Canada and the United States.”

Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify around one in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum – a tenfold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Research shows that this increase is partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is 4-5 times more common among boys than it is girls, and an estimated one out of 54 boys and one in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the U.S.

“Principally, it’s awful for the kids, but you can’t feel sorry for the kids because some of them are brilliant; smarter than I’ll ever be,” Lindsay said. “But they are all locked within themselves. You feel sorry for the mother and the father, because that’s a lifetime chore.”

Lindsay first became interested in autism in 2001, when he learned that the 9-year-old son of a friend was diagnosed with the complex disorder. From that moment, Lindsay and his friend, John Czarnecki, established the foundation.

Last month, the foundation hosted its 12th annual celebrity golf outing, which was attended by several Red Wings’ players, at Wabeek Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Other successful events planned each year include a wine-tasting and the Kroger Hockey Fest, which will be held in April.

“I just wanted to do something,” Lindsay said. “And how do old athletes raise money? They have golf outings.”

For more information about the Ted Lindsay Foundation, click here.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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