Miami Dolphins Fight Against Autism
by Marissa Stabler, Communications Intern
The Miami Dolphins’ football season may be over, but that doesn’t mean that Sun Life Stadium will have to wait until September to see Dolphins fighting for a victory.
Tomorrow members of the Dolphin family will gather at the Dolphins’ home for the 1st Annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism, which will benefit the autism community of South Florida.
Joining Marino will be Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland, father of 15-year-old twin girls, Haley and Hannah, both of whom have autism.
Ireland said he and his wife Rachel are “very big advocates for autism.”
“It’s dear to our hearts,” Ireland told a South Florida radio station. “We want to spread the word and try to raise as much money here for South Florida [Center for Autism and Related Disabilities] and the autism societies of South Florida and the Dan Marino Foundation because they do an unbelievable job with autism and their related disorders.”
Michael Marino, the 22-year-old autistic son of the former Dolphins great, has had remarkable success in his fight against autism.
Ireland contributes a great deal of Michael’s success to autism societies and centers for autism-related disorders.
“Michael’s one of those guys that can certainly tell you if it wasn’t for the help of these people . . . Michael would not be the man he is today,” Ireland said. “It’s an unbelievable testament of how much work these people do. You can help these kids, you can definitely help them. We’ve come a long way.”
The goal of WalkAbout Autism is to raise $500,000 for South Florida’s autism community. So far, over $330,000 has been raised, according to the Dan Marino Foundation website. http://support.danmarinofoundation.org/site/TR?fr_id=1030&pg=entry
The Dan Marino Foundation was established by Marino and his wife Claire in 1992. The foundation’s mission is to “’open doors’ toward independence for children and young adults with autism and other special needs.”
According to its website, the foundation has raised over $28 million since its inception which has been used to fund major medical research, build the Miami Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Center, and operate life-changing programs.