"Individuals with autism are wonderful human beings that sometimes just need a little bit of awareness from other individuals to open up their world so you can see what's going on in their world," said Joelle Burke, Matt Anderson's Sister and Spiking for Autism Committee Member.
That's been the goal of the Anderson family, to raise more awareness and money, through the Matt Anderson Spiking for Autism Volleyball tournament. Matt Anderson is a USA Olympic Volleyball player and together his family and friends started the tournament on behalf of his 12-year-old nephew Tristen, who has autism.
"Once he started playing professional volleyball and he was on TV, he decided to get a tattoo right on his serving hand that has the autism puzzle piece and he actually had my son write his name, so every time he goes to serve, a lot of times the camera zooms in and there's a lot of media that asks about that so he talks about it quite often," said Burke.
This year marks the 5th anniversary of the tournament, and since its start, more than eighty thousand dollars has been raised, all donated to Autism Services Resource Center.
"We work with children from 15 to 21 and fortunately because of Matt Anderson and the Andersons, we were able to build a resource center, open up a resource center I should say, in Hamburg," said Francine Rizzo, Autism Services Inc. Development and Fundraiser Coordinator.
"There's a library in there, there's a sensory room, there's a professional development room for conferences, it's a great area for individuals that are wanting to know more," said Burke.
At this year's fundraiser, they open to raise enough to break their hundred thousand dollar mark, and use that money to support even more non-profits that work with individuals with autism.
"There's other little organizations that are non for profit that put on wonderful activities for individuals with autism and their families, they're all non for profit and one is Sunsational Fun on Southwestern Boulevard so that's something we are looking as this gets bigger to donate to other places like that so that they can keep their doors open and costs low for families," said Burke.
"Why be lost when you know there's a lot of places to help," said Rizzo.