Spartanburg celebrities play hoops for good cause

By Bob Montgomery 
Staff Writer

Ricaye Harris scored with one second left to lift the white team over the blue team 39-37 in a Ball4Good women’s celebrity basketball game Sunday at Spartanburg Day School.

“I’m not disappointed,” said blue team celebrity Ann Angermeier of the Upstate Workforce Board. “Coming back from 10 down (to tie the game) was great. It was fun for a great cause. And nobody got hurt.”

Sunday also featured a men’s celebrity game and exhibition games with the Cleveland and Pacolet Boys and Girls Clubs.

Ball4Good founder Adom Appiah, a ninth-grader at Spartanburg Day School, said it’s the third year of the fundraiser for Ball4Good. Proceeds support Project Hope Foundation, an organization that serves people with autism in Spartanburg County and across the Upstate.

This year, Ball4Good also recognized three other nonprofits: Sidewalk Hope, Citizen Scholars Institute and Brothers Restoring Urban Hope.

Click photo for Video.

Click photo for Video.


The event was sponsored by the Spartanburg County Foundation and supported by the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg schools and several community leaders.

Project HOPE Foundation was founded in 1997 by mothers looking for services for their young sons with autism. Project HOPE Foundation provides services and programs that help families, promote inclusion and teach life skills.

Anthony Ianni, a former Michigan State University basketball player, addressed the crowd in between the men’s and women’s celebrity games.

Capture12.JPG

PHOTOS: Ball4Good celebrity basketball game

He said he was diagnosed at age 4 with an autism disorder and told he would never be an athlete. He proved doubters wrong, and after graduating high school in 2007, he eventually landed on the Michigan State basketball team as a walk-on for two years, being on a team that went to the Final Four.

He was the first athlete with autism to play Big Ten basketball. He majored in sociology.

He said he is proof that someone with autism can lead a full and productive life. But it takes commitment and hard work to make dreams become a reality, he said.

PHOTOS: Ball4Good celebrity basketball game

Capture11.JPG

“Enjoy today,” he said. “Be relentless.”

Celebrity participants had a good time but also showed their competitiveness.

At one time, they gave a referee a hard time for calling a 3-second violation. Other calls were questioned as well.

“We felt slighted,” Angermeier said, smiling.

Project Hope Races with NASCAR

Forming unique alliance with 2017 SC Rookie of the Year


By Stephanie Trotter

Project HOPE supporters are revving their engines, as this Saturday’s Evening of HOPE approaches. The annual gala is the Project HOPE Foundation’s largest fundraiser, which also brings attention to autism, and the lifespan of local services available for those with the disorder, and their families. Front and center at this year’s gala auction – the shiny black hood of Colby Howard’s Pro Late Model Ford, featuring the Project HOPE logo. The exceptional collaboration of a racecar driver and the 22-year non-profit organization is generating cheers far beyond victory lane.

Howard just won the “Show Me the Money 100” Pro Late Model race at the Montgomery Motor Speedway, with the Project HOPE sun logo blazing across the finish line. “It was awesome! It was just amazing,” shares Foundation Board Chairman Joe Vaughn, whose $20,000 donation secured the top spot on Howard’s car. “We immediately had people calling from all different states because they saw the logo. Our wildest dreams imagined, would be to grab the national spotlight, and make people aware of autism all across the United States.”

Project HOPE students and young adults signed the hood of Howard’s racecar. Photo provided.

Project HOPE students and young adults signed the hood of Howard’s racecar. Photo provided.

Vaughn has been watching Howard’s career pick up speed for years. Last year, the NASCAR fan secured a small, 12” x 12” spot on Colby’s car for his concrete company. But at the start of the new season, the autism advocate paid for the hood and quarter panel to educate. He plans to keep the Project HOPE sun shining on #81 for months to come, by making an additional $20,000-$30,000 donation.

“Sometimes you would think that autism and racing would be very dissimilar,” explains Foundation Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Lisa Lane. “Our kids almost always have sound sensitivities, and nothing is louder than the powerful motors of these beautiful cars. But there are similarities. One of the defining characteristics of autism is repetition, repetitious behaviors, and attention to detail.”

Teen racing phenom Colby “The Kid” Howard knows a thing or two about repetitious behaviors and attention to detail, as he circles the track dozens of times at 110 miles per hour. The Hillcrest High junior is a third-generation stock car driver, and South Carolina’s 2017 NASCAR Rookie of the Year. The 17-year-old is competing with the Anthony Campi Racing team, as he gains traction and moves up the NASCAR circuit.

Colby Howard, NASCAR’s 2017 Rookie of the Year, is competing with the Anthony Campi Racing team. Photo provided.

Colby Howard, NASCAR’s 2017 Rookie of the Year, is competing with the Anthony Campi Racing team. Photo provided.

This Friday, the speed demon will race at Pensacola’s 5 Flags Speedway, where he hopes to watch the Project HOPE sun rise from under the checkered flag again. Saturday, he’ll head back to Greenville to attend the gala… and prom. The teen easily shifts gears between racing and school activities.

Over spring break, the student met with Project HOPE students, and young adults, on the spectrum at the Foundation’s Woodruff campus. Howard helped everyone sign the hood that will be auctioned off this Saturday. “Seeing how the kids were smiling sitting in the car, and messing with the switches, was cool,” the racer divulges. “This is definitely not like my other corporate sponsors. We’re with a really good team and hoping for a lot of success this season, and seeing how Project HOPE is involved with my racing, it’s pretty cool.”

Lane stood nearby, admiring the newfound friendships and form of awareness. “What we want for this crowd is exactly what Colby has,” she reveals. “We want them to have a passion and pursue it. What a great example, to see a 17-year-old who is able to follow his dream, and through our services, these kids get to discover what is important to them, and how we can help them get there.”

Autism foundation, Genetic Center join forces

The Project HOPE Foundation in Greenville has joined with the Greenwood Genetic Center to develop a program that will give families with autistic children an integrated approach to delivering services and support and conducting research.

Called Helix and Hope, the program brings Project HOPE's Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy for autism to Greenwood with plans to grow ABA and other therapies there, as well as explore personalized therapeutic models, support education models that promote inclusion, enhance independent living and job skills training, and formulate evidence-based medical strategies, officials said.

Project HOPE is a center in Greenville that offers therapy, education, training, family support, social groups, adult services and employment to people with autism and their families. Pooling resources and sharing expertise will foster success, officials said.

“Helix and Hope was born out of a desire to provide individuals with access to proven therapeutic services and educational opportunities along side the latest in scientific discoveries and potential treatments,” said center director Steve Skinner. “By combining our expertise and resources with that of Project HOPE Foundation, we hope to better understand the biology of (autism spectrum disorders), deliver needed services, expand opportunities for inclusion, and formulate medical treatment strategies.”

GGC is developing a blood test for autism and the foundation is providing samples from both those with autism and those without the condition to help validate the test, officials said. They are also collecting clinical data on clients so GGC scientists can determine whether the test can measure a person's level of functioning.

“This collaboration is truly innovative in the world of autism, bringing two important components together — science and services,” said Susan Sachs, a co-founder of the foundation.

“Greenwood Genetic Center’s research in developing new diagnostic options is a game-changer for our families, who often waste critical years waiting for a diagnosis before they can access services,” she said.

“This partnership opens up possibilities that have not been tapped into before, directly connecting scientific research with life-changing services,” said Lisa Lane, co-founder of Project HOPE.

Based in Greenwood, the nonprofit genetic center has offices in Greenville, Charleston, Columbia and Florence.

To learn more, go to www.ggc.org and www.projecthopesc.org.

Project HOPE Foundation and Greenwood Genetic Center Join Forces

The Project HOPE Foundation in Greenville has joined with the Greenwood Genetic Center to develop a program that will give families with autistic children an integrated approach to delivering services and support and conducting research.

Called Helix and Hope, the program brings Project HOPE's Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy for autism to Greenwood with plans to grow ABA and other therapies there, as well as explore personalized therapeutic models, support education models that promote inclusion, enhance independent living and job skills training, and formulate evidence-based medical strategies, officials said.

Project HOPE is a center in Greenville that offers therapy, education, training, family support, social groups, adult services and employment to people with autism and their families. Pooling resources and sharing expertise will foster success, officials said.

“Helix and Hope was born out of a desire to provide individuals with access to proven therapeutic services and educational opportunities along side the latest in scientific discoveries and potential treatments,” said center director Steve Skinner. “By combining our expertise and resources with that of Project HOPE Foundation, we hope to better understand the biology of (autism spectrum disorders), deliver needed services, expand opportunities for inclusion, and formulate medical treatment strategies.”

Hope Reach Program Director Presents to Healthcare Subcommittee

Mark Knight joined Lorri Unumb, Vice President of State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks, informing the Healthcare Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee about the need for funding for ABA therapy.

 

Parent Toolkit Training

Project HOPE Foundation teamed up with Institute for Behavioral Training to provide a parent workshop in Greenwood on Friday, August 28, at the Greenwood Genetic Center. This training, funded through a grant from the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, is one of a statewide series, focusing on empowering parents awaiting therapy services for their children with autism.

Parents attending the training were equipped with a package of free resources, including:
· a hard-copy manual, Evidence-Based Treatment for Children with Autism
· a one-year subscription to over 40 hours of online training modules to be watched at an individualized pace, and
· a year's access to an online "curriculum" (Skills®) designed to help parents begin working with their children with autism to build skills and to diminish problem behaviors, personalized to each particular child based on input from the parents.

The response of parents has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. “This is the best autism workshop EVER,” reported one mother.

Future workshops are planned for Aiken, Charleston, Columbia, and Florence.