The story of Jason McElwain was one of the first I can remember dealing with autism awareness and sports that went nationwide. It was covered by ESPN and news outlets everywhere! Jason, nicknamed "J-Mac" has autism. His life changed forever in February 2006 as he helped tear down some stereotypes that come with autism.

Jason was appointed as the manager of the Greece Athena High School by his basketball coach, Jim Johnson. On February 15, 2006, Jason played in a high school basketball game against a team for a division title. His high school got a big lead, so his coach decided to let Jason play in the last four minutes and nineteen seconds of the game! What happened next was awesome............

Jason started off slow missing his first two shots, but then caught fire making six three point shots and another two pointer. He finished the game with 20 points in just over four minutes!!! After the final buzzer sounded, the crowd rushed the court in celebration with Jason on their shoulders. What a great feeling it must of been for Jason to have so many people celebrating this with him!

Asked years later what he learned most from the game, Jason replied "I learned that no matter what you put your mind to, if you set goals and put forth the effort, you CAN accomplish them. That season, I would put up 500 shots a day. I didn't know I was ever going to play until three days before the game, but I still shot 500 times a day. So I hope other people know that you CAN accomplish anything. Just don't give up." WOW! This is a part of the story I never knew. He shot 500 times a day just in hopes of possibly playing at some point, with NO guarantees. That is a dedication and desire we all should strive for! No matter what the circumstances are. We should set our goals high, work hard and DREAM BIG!

Through all of this, Jason has been able to do so many things. He met President Bush, Peyton Manning and many others. He even won an ESPY award from ESPN for the "Best Moment in Sports" that year. More importantly, it opened many doors for him to raise awareness about autism through his speaking engagements, appearances on TV and his book, "The Game of My Life".  

Jason was asked how important it was to him to bring more awareness to autism. He replied, "It's very important. People with disabilities deserve a chance to succeed. My advice, like Magic Johnson once said, "If you don't dream it, you can't become it." It's like trying to play perfect in basketball. You have to shake off all the mistakes and move on the next possession because the  most important play is always the next one. In life, you're going to go through challenges and adversity, but you can't dwell on the sad times. You've got to focus on the next task and work hard at doing your best. "

Again, I am just blown away by Jason...."If you don't dream it, you can't become it". I love that! Our goal as a foundation is to help children and families experiencing autism and bullying to be able to set their goals high and reach those dreams! No matter if they are small goals or large dreams, anything is possible!

Together we WILL make a difference! Help us spread the story about Jason and come along side us to help other children and families reach their goals! Great things are ahead! I have attached the link to the article from about that unforgettable day on February 15, 2006. What an inspiring story and one that I am posting on the day of the NCAA Final Four!

#500forautism #autism #awareness #dreambig #kidsanddreams #operationshine