Middle Village darts tournament raises money for autism

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A darts tournament in Middle Village was a bull’s-eye for children with autism.

Play4Austim, a nonprofit that provides sports and activities for children with the disorder, raised nearly $450 to support new programs at the event on July 13 at Pat’s Sports Bar on Metropolitan Avenue.

“Everyone is coming in to have fun at the darts tournament, but at the same time to raise awareness for the foundation,” said founder Greg Vasicek. “It spreads awareness for people who are not aware of autism and for the families, it brings a closer niche-type community.”

A dozen participants competed in the tournament for $10 each. The winner, Marty Mueller, received $60 while the remaining funds were donated to the organization. Mueller also decided to give his winnings to charity.

“I’ll keep the trophy, but the money is for the kids,” he said.

Following the tournament, there was a raffle for gift baskets that raised an additional $320 for the foundation.

The sports Play4Austim encourages among autistic children throughout the year include street hockey, basketball, t-ball, soccer and even Tiger Schulmann’s Karate lessons. It also sponsors music lessons and arts and craft activities, and is seeking to add acting and science lessons as well.

The organization’s events are mostly funded through donations and fundraisers such as the darts tournament, which Pat’s immediately signed up for when asked.

“It’s a neighborhood bar, you’re supposed to give back,” said owner Pat Grillo. “The idea is about them. It’s not about us.”

About one in 88 children are affected by autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and form relationships. So far, there is no known cure.

Vasicek has a personal connection with the condition because his nephews have autism. Since he played ice hockey professionally in Europe for 15 years, Vasicek wanted to help children with autism through sports.

“I pray every day there will be” a cure, he said. “But my dream is that these kids could integrate into society.”





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