LIVINGSTON, N.J. (October 28, 2013) -- While not in action this weekend, the Rutgers men’s soccer team volunteered its time for “Kick It Up For Autism” and helped raise money for Parents of Autistic Children (POAC).
POAC strives to help individuals with autism achieve their highest potential in their homes, schools and communities and has a proven track record of providing services to children and adults with autism, their families, and the professionals who serve them.
Since its inception, POAC has provided training, services, outreach and support for thousands of people throughout New Jersey and across the country. In addition, POAC funded the first statewide program for the early detection of and intervention for children with autism.
“Kick It Up For Autism” was started by the Sarah Miller, daughter of Rutgers men’s soccer alum, Mike Miller, and featured a juggle-a-thon, Halloween costume contest and “Meet and Greet” with the Scarlet Knights. With a goal of raising $5,000 for the cause, Miller and the Scarlet Knights surpassed expectation.
“We ended up helping to raise $10,000, which is pretty awesome,” said freshman midfielder Erik Sa (Watchung, N.J.).
“I was so fortunate growing up with a great family and fortunate enough to be healthy all my life and not be affected by some of these unfortunate things that happen to other people,” added Sa. “Although I have been around those affected by autism through friends, to help other people in difficult situations is something important to do. Anything I can do to help, I try to do that.”
While the day was about raising money for those affected by autism, it was also a chance for the Scarlet Knights to grow the game they play and love.
“We were doing a game where you had to settle the ball as close to a cone as possible. Three or four little kids ran over immediately and tried to jump in with us,” said Rutgers goalkeeper Mitchell Wailer (Holmdel, N.J.) of one his favorite moments of the day. “They did surprising well and actually kept up with us. It was great to see that they were so eager to play with us. “
“I remember when I was younger and seeing older kids play soccer and thought it was amazing,” recalled Wailer. “I never imagined being able to do that myself. I think switching roles is huge. You have a certain responsibility to have the younger kids look up to you and try and learn from you.”
“It’s always important,” said fellow netminder David Greczek (Fairfield, N.J.) of giving back to the community. “It boosts your morale. At the end of the day it matters what you can do for the kids. If you can put a smile on their face, it makes their day, as well as your day.”
While fun was had by the Scarlet Knight men’s soccer team, and more importantly, all those in attendance that helped to raise money for POAC, the mission of the day was not lost.
“I understand the challenges these families face,” said Wailer. “This money is going to help raise awareness, get people the support they need and do a lot of good.”