EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Brandon Gore just wants to help the organization that’s been helping his youngest son Brady who is diagnosed with non-verbal autism. So as the president of the Mid Illini Bandits Fastpitch Softball Organization, he pitched the idea of hosting the Angels for Autism Tournament to benefit the Easterseals.
Brady goes to Easterseals for speech therapy and occupational therapy. Some of his milestones since working with the nonprofit organization include playing basketball, being able to express what he wants to eat, and he’s developed a love to be in the water.
“When he sees the picture of the Easterseals pool, he knows exactly what that is,” said Gore. “Just to see his eyes and face light up when he can recognize something. I never thought that would be possible just considering he was non-verbal autistic.”
Hosting the softball tournament in April is timely since it’s Gore’s birthday month and Autism Awareness Month. Gore said he his blessed to have the backing of The Mid Illini Bandits with when it comes to anything being done for the community.
“It’s bigger than the field. And that’s what I really want to push through my brand. Really teaching them to give back to the community and it’s bigger than the game,” said Gore.
Morgan Poignant’s daughter Zoey plays for The Mid Illini Bandits and she also has a son with autism. Though it’s Zoey’s first year with the team, her mom is proud that the girls are learning about inclusion at an early age.
“I think that instilling that kindness and inclusion into them when they are young is only going to make adults see that more and understand that we have to be kind to everybody,” said Poignant.
Zoey is happy to be part of an organization that makes a difference for people like her brother and Brady.
“It’s amazing and I love doing this for my team and all the people who have special needs,” she said. “It feels special for me, for him and for all the other kids that we’re going to help.”
The softball tournament is April 22-23 at the Pekin Fields. Brady and other Easterseals participants will throw first pitches.