FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept.  26, 2018

Whiteland fifth grader with autism looking forward meeting Blue, seeing the Colts take on the Texans on Sunday

Drew Benedetto loves to pretend he’s an announcer, and he loves to be around adults, so he’s going to be in a little slice of heaven on Sunday when he’ll be able to watch the Indianapolis Colts from an MVP seat inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

The 10-year-old has Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as various other illnesses including Chromosomal Abnormality Disorder and Mild Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy. He’s faced a lot of struggles in his short life, trying to fit in at school – he’s a fifth-grader at Grassy Creek Elementary in Whiteland – and making friends. He’s also had to cope with grief, after a friend and classmate died last year from a fatal asthma attack.

Despite those struggles, he has an infectious smile and is quick to say, “hi,” when he sees an adult, who may also receive a big hug.

“He’s really the happiest kid,” says his mom Christina Benedetto. “There’s always a smile on his face.”

That smile will get even bigger when he gets to meet Blue (the Colts mascot) on Sunday. “He’s also hoping to be on the jumbo screen,” Benedetto said.

On Sunday, Damar and the Indianapolis Colts are rewarding him for the progress he’s making by naming him a Colts MVP. He’ll be on the field for pre-game warmups, meet Blue and receive special gifts from the Colts.

Drew will be there with his parents, Christina and Joe and his 2½-year-old sister, Reagan, who has a special relationship with her brother. “She’s like his miniature therapist,” Christina said. “When she notices Drew getting upset, she’ll calmly say, ‘You need to calm down.’ And, he listens to her. He had surgery to repair a hole in his eardrum earlier this week, and his sister, offers to hold his hand when he has to take his medication.”

Drew receives behavioral therapy at Damar, which provides services to children and adults challenged by autism and intellectual, developmental and behavioral disabilities. Therapy is helping Drew better handle his emotions and interact with peers.

Damar selects one student as the Colts MVP for each of home game this season. The MVP and three guests will be on the field for pre-game warmups, they’ll meet the Colts’ mascot Blue and receive special gifts from the Colts.

COLTS MVP DETAILS

WHAT:  Limo pickup of Drew and his guests (Mom and dad, Christina and Joe Benedetto

and 2½-year-old sister, Reagan)

WHEN:      Sunday, Sept. 30, between 11 a.m.  and 11:15 a.m.

WHERE:    Damar Services Family Services Center (main building), 6067 Decatur Blvd

 

About Damar Services, Inc.

For nearly 50 years, Damar Services has been a leader in providing services to children and adults challenged by autism and intellectual, developmental and behavioral disabilities. From its main campus on Indianapolis’ southwest side, a northeast side clinic and other locations across the state, Damar offers residential and community-based treatment, outpatient behavioral health services and ABA Autism Services by Damar. In addition, Damar operates two schools and provides foster care services. For more information, visit www.damar.org.

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Media contact: Jenny Peters-Reece, Damar vice president of communications and marketing, 812-239-0447, jennyp@dev-damar-org-site.pantheonsite.io