RENTON, Wash.-- As general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, John Schneider understands pressure. He says what he experiences at home, raising a 16-year-old son on the autism spectrum, provides much-needed perspective.
"We’re in entertainment," Schneider says about working in the NFL. Turning to families living with autism, he continues, "That's the real world and it really brings your focus back on point really quick."
Schneider and his wife, Traci, are determined to provide a successful transition for son Ben from adolescence to adulthood. Now they want to help others on the spectrum do the same.
New this year, the support organization they founded, named Ben's Fund, is offering grants to young adults on the spectrum, ages 19 to 23. It's an especially challenging time for those with autism, when they transition out of school systems. The money provided will help support education, job training, and classes on life skills, and social skills.
"You feel really, really alone when you have kiddo on the spectrum," says Traci Schneider. "And I hear that from a lot of families. So hopefully we make people feel not so alone."
Ben's Fund has raised more than $2.9 million and provided more than 1,400 grants to families in the state of Washington. It's paid for medical bills, therapies, and resources supporting children on the autism spectrum.
Throughout the month of April, the Seahawks will donate 10% of sales for every regular priced hat and knit cap sold at Seahawks retail stores to Ben’s Fund, in support of Autism Awareness Month. The four retail stores are located at CenturyLink Field, downtown Seattle, Renton Landing and Alderwood Mall. Fans will also be able to make an in-store donations at the cash register.
If you'd like more information on how to support the effort or apply for grants: Click here for Ben's Fund.