Ascension baseball to celebrate Autism Awareness Month

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com

With the start of April, Ascension's baseball teams as well as other high-schools and colleges in the area are ready to break out their custom blue wristbands to raise awareness for autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month and ever since 2011, St. Amant assistant baseball coach Marshall Crooks has done his best to honor those that have the neurodevelopmental disorder as well as spread awareness for those that may not have been diagnosed.

The cause is very personal to Crooks. His son Allen has autism. The disorder is becoming more and more prevalent. It's now estimated that one in every 68 children have it.

This year's Autism Awareness Month was kicked off last Saturday at the Nicholls State vs. Southeastern baseball game.

Nicholls State is Crooks' alma mater. Allen threw out the first pitch. He did the same thing last year for an LSU vs. Southern matchup.

Ever since Crooks has taken up the cause of trying to spread awareness, Ascension's three 5A teams have all taken part.

Every April, players from St. Amant, East Ascension and Dutchtown have all worn blue wristbands with artwork displaying a puzzle piece. The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognizable symbol of the autism community.

But now, the cause has spread. This year, there will be seven high school teams and five college programs that will wear the wristbands.

Along with the parish's three 5A teams, Donaldsonville and Ascension Catholic will take part, along with Zachary, Assumption, Dunham and U-High.

In the college ranks, LSU, Nicholls State, Southeastern, Southern and UL-Lafayette will all participate.

Baton Rouge's Marruci has chipped in to provide customized silicon bracelets the players will wear. They read, "Strike Out Autism."

All money raised by the schools for the cause will be donated to Families Helping Families--which is a non-profit, family-directed resource center for individuals with disabilities.

For anyone interested in joining the Autism Awareness cause in the future, email mccrooks31@eatel.net.