John Schneider, Seahawks raise money for autism
By Liz Mathews
Just one week before the start of the 2012 NFL draft, Seahawks general manager John Schneider put his scouting reports aside for a special cause: autism.
Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and over 30 Seahawks coaches, players and alumni gathered at El Gaucho restaurant in Bellevue for the first annual “Prime Time” celebrity waiter event. All proceeds from the evening will provide the monetary assistance needed to launch “Ben’s Fund,” a partnership to benefit Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Washington.
FEAT, a non-profit organization, assists families in the community with children who fall within the autism spectrum by developing programming to help them reach their full potential.
Schneider’s son, Ben, is one of those children.
Now 10, Ben was just over a year old when Schneider and his wife, Traci, began to notice the initial symptoms of autism.
“He wouldn’t point to things, he wouldn’t talk back to us, we could say his name a hundred times and he would never look at us or respond,” Traci Schneider told MyNorthwest.com’s Josh Kerns earlier in April. “He didn’t want to interact with us, he didn’t socialize with other kids his age. And then his temper tantrums kicked in.”
Fortunate enough to have been able to find help for their son, the Schneiders now hope to provide the same to other families in need through “Ben’s Fund.” According to the grant page of the FEAT website, “the intent of establishing ‘Ben’s Fund’ at FEAT of Washington is twofold: to not only provide grants to families to help them obtain services for their children on the spectrum, but also to drive families to FEAT so they will be connected to a larger community to receive ongoing guidance and assistance as they continue their journey with autism.”
“The one thing that drew us to them [FEAT] is because we didn’t have that organization when our son was diagnosed,” Traci Schneider said Thursday before the event. “We didn’t have somebody to turn to say, ‘What should we be doing? What avenues should we be going down? What are the things that can help him?’ We just kind of had to do it on our own. And that’s not a unique story; there’s a lot of families that have to do this on their own, which is why we wanted to partner up with FEAT.”
Now in his third season with the Seahawks, Schneider said that when he moved to the area he had met families in the Seattle community who had worked with FEAT and experienced success and improvement with their children.
“So there’s a lot of hope and a lot of really neat things going on, but there’s a long, long road ahead of us for helping these children and helping people in the community understand these children,” Schneider said. “The understanding of the [autism] spectrum is huge, it’s a puzzle. Hopefully we can start raising the awareness and research starts coming along. So Traci and I are involved a little bit with the research, but more so we want to be on the family side of it — the siblings, the parents — and help them out as much as we possibly could.”
Finishing his sentence, Traci said, “Because we know what that’s like.”
If you were unable to attend the event and would still like to donate, you can do so through FEAT’s website.