Why Autism Support is My Passion

Since I am blessed to have Jason (J-Mac) McElwain in my life, supporting Autism is very dear to my heart. Jason’s game was the greatest night I ever had in Coaching basketball. As I travel the country to give my keynotes and workshops, people will often ask if I still have contact with J-Mac. I laugh, as I get out my cell phone and show the 6 texts I have received from Jason just since I landed.

J-Mac and I are very close today. He has been working on my basketball staff for the last 8 years. I see Jason almost every day during the basketball season and have some type of contact with him nearly every day throughout the year. He has almost become a second son to me. Since J-Mac is on the Autism Spectrum I have been given the gift of being able to learn more about autism. The latest research states that 1 out of 68 children born in the U.S. will be on the Autism Spectrum. That is staggering to me! I have partnered with a local autism organization called AutismUp. Working with them allows me to be a part of an organization that supports individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families and the community.

I’m thrilled to be working with AutismUp on the First Annual Opportunity Awards Fundraiser. Our goal is to raise money and awareness about autism and the proceeds will go to AutismUp; a portion of the proceeds will also go to Greece Athena High School in honor of J-Mac.  We are all so excited that ESPN commentator, journalist and actor (Jerry Maguire) Roy Firestone will be performing and speaking at the event! I hope that you can attend! If not, I hope you will consider making a donation to the great work that AutismUp does in our community!

In one of my keynote presentations, one of the things I talk about is Carpe Diem and J-Mac is such a great example of what happens when you seize the day! He has already competed in two Boston Marathons and will be competing again in 2016. He has written a book titled The Game of My Life and he continues to be an inspiration to me, to the Greece Athena High School family and to all who are inspired by his story!

Coach Jim Johnson partners with AutismUp for autism fundraiser

2016 AutismUp Opportunity Awards

Please join us to celebrate the special individuals and organizations that create opportunities for those with autism in our community.

AutismUp is pleased to celebrate the valuable “players” in our community supporting Team AutismUp. The honorees provide support, opportunity, and successful outcomes for people living with autism.

The awards are born out of the spirit of the opportunity given to Jason McElwain, a Greece Athena High School senior, four year varsity basketball team manager and individual with autism one February night in 2006 by his coach, Jim Johnson. In his first appearance in uniform, at the final home game of the season, JMac was hotter than a pistol – scoring an unbelievable 20 points, with six three-point shots, one two-pointer, all in the final 4 minutes and 19 seconds! A miracle, perhaps, but the fact is that many years of acceptance, inclusion and support led to that great opportunity insuring JMac’s success. Following his rise to fame, JMac wrote a book chronicling his rise to fame called The Game of My Life.

Coach Jim Johnson has over 30 years developing winning high school basketball teams, including 407 career victories. 2016 marks his final season and retirement as a coach. He plans to help support the efforts of AutismUp by raising awareness for autism and expanding opportunities in the Greater Rochester area to help the estimated 10,000 diagnosed with ASD. He shares his life changing message about the power of the human spirit in his book entitled, Dreams Really Do Come True! and reminds us of the magic of passion, perseverance, and the power of teamwork in his motivational speaking engagements. Coach hopes to inspire everyone to make contributions in their lives and appreciate the difference they can make towards the lives of others.

Please visit the Opportunity Awards website for more information, to buy tickets or to make a contribution.



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