Ever notice the lapel pins that Coach K wears at games? On Saturday, he, along with 80 other NCAA men's basketball coaches, will sport a light blue puzzle piece pin in honor of Autism Awareness Day in College B-ball.
The Blue Devils travel on Saturday to Syracuse at a sell-out crowd of over 35,000, which will make it the highest-attended on-campus basketball game in NCAA history.
Towson University's Pat Skerry and Marshall University's Tom Herrion, who both have children with autism, asked their colleagues to wear the pin.
Manoj Kanagaraj, president of the Duke chapter of Autism Speaks U and a sophomore majoring in biology, was excited to see that Coach K had signed on to wear the pin. "I think it can have a huge impact among the student body and alumni. It is an exciting time for families affected by autism, and I believe that more support is just around the corner."
The Duke chapter promotes awareness and education of the disorder, which affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. They also host Blue Devil Buddies, which brings to campus families from Durham who have children with autism. "There aren't a lot of opportunities to hang out with peers," he said.
"Most of us have some personal connection, such as a family member or friend," said Kanagaraj, who has a younger cousin who was diagnosed. "Similar to me, they didn't know much at autism until it came up in their lives. It can pose a major financial and social burden to families."