Throughout Autism Awareness Month in April, organizations and individuals alike are taking part in programs, fundraisers, or awareness campaigns to shine a light on and benefit those who live with autism spectrum disorder. One NBA player is joining in, and for him, it’s personal.
Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles has announced that throughout this month, he’s partnering with online company Charitybuzz to raise money for 4 ASD Kids Charity in Australia, his native country, and to pay off autism therapy bills for kids in the Salt Lake City area.
Ingles posted on his Instagram, “I’m grateful to have teammates, peers, and close friends in the sports and entertainment industry that are willing to donate items like: game worn jerseys, autographed shoes PLUS experiences like: virtual Q+A, private workout classes and more.”
He’s also partnering with Vivint to raise funds throughout the month for Vivint Gives Back.
The issue is especially meaningful to Ingles because one of his three children, Jacob, has autism. He was born, along with his twin sister Milla, in 2016. Three years later, he received his diagnosis.
Shortly after announcing his fundraising effort, Ingles posted to social media about the importance of his goal this month.
He wrote, “We don’t talk about Autism for sympathy or pity. We talk about Autism to spread awareness and acceptance for those children and adults that are just as important as you or me. I’m so proud of you Jacob, you keep being you. Every day you continue to light up our day.”
4 ASD Kids Charity reposted Ingles’ announcement to their Facebook and Instagram pages. The organization uses donations to help children in programs with early intervention treatment. According to their Facebook, they are currently sponsoring 12 children.
This isn’t the first time Ingles has done his part to help the autistic community. After a teenager with autism was shot by police in 2020, Ingles said he contacted Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Police Chief Mike Brown about the possibility of more training for officers. He told KUTV in Utah that he probably annoyed them with his persistence.
When he and his wife learned about the shooting, it was tough to stomach. He said, “We were sitting at home, and it hit really hard.”
After his chats with officials, it was agreed that all of the city’s officers, firefighters, and dispatchers would receive Certified Sensory Inclusive training from the nonprofit KultureCity. Ingles serves on their board. That training included the importance of empathy, what to do during an interaction with someone who has an invisible disability or a sensory need, and how to recognize that they might have a need.
The training will continue to be available each year.
As he helps the autistic community in his homeland and his adopted city, Ingles continues to be supportive of and invested in Jacob’s progress.
In an Instagram post on the anniversary of his diagnosis, Ingles posted, “2 years ago today we sat in a room while getting told ‘Jacob has Autism.’ I had no idea what that meant for you or us. You have worked so hard. You continue to grow and show us that amazing personality inside you! I am so proud of you. I love you so much buddy.”Whizzco