The Los Angeles Dodgers will observe Autism Awareness Night at tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium, part of an effort throughout Major League Baseball to raise awareness about the group of complex developmental brain disorders.
A public service announcement from Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, will be shown during pregame ceremonies. The Dodgers offered discounted group tickets for the game, with a portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold going to Autism Speaks.
Actress Holly Robinson Peete will sing the national anthem. After her oldest son RJ was diagnosed with autism, she expanded the scope of the foundation she co-founded with her husband, former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, to include support and resources for families affected by an autism diagnosis.
A first pitch will be thrown by Spencer Harte, an 18-year-old with autism.
Since its founding in 2005, Autism Speaks has committed more than $570 million for science and medical research into the causes, prevention, treatment and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
In December 2014, the organization began MSSNG, a project to support the development of the world’s largest database of sequenced genomic information on people with autism spectrum disorder and their family members.
MSSNG, pronounced missing, is more than halfway to its goal of sequencing more than 10,000 autism genomes in an effort to provide the worldwide autism research community with a platform to answer some of the most difficult questions about the disorder. The data is freely available to researchers worldwide through the internet.
The project’s name has the vowels deliberately omitted to represent the missing pieces of the autism puzzle and is symbolic of the missing information about autism the project is designed to find.