Armani Williams is the first NASCAR driver to be openly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And at only 17 years old, he has leveraged racing as a platform to raise awareness about autism-related causes.
Williams, the inspiration behind the Race4Autism Foundation, will be part of a number of festivities Saturday, Aug. 26, in Akron, including the Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA) and Ardmore Inc.’s Race4Autism Foundation Fundraiser, a day of music, food and other activities to raise autism awareness. Williams will have his #28 Dodge on premises and will host a meet-and-greet with fans.
The morning of the event, Williams will take his race car to host a meet-and-greet and autograph signing at the Akron Zoo penguin exhibit from 11 a.m. to noon. Last month, the Akron Zoo became the first zoo in Ohio and the second in the country to earn a sensory inclusive certification.
The Race4Autism Foundation Fundraiser will kick off from 1 to 4 p.m. at 1501 S. Hawkins Street in Akron. The Race4Autism Foundation Fundraiser is made possible thanks to sponsors Ardmore Inc., CADA, and Testa Companies, as well as the vendors, including: Just the Goods, Miche Mozaix, Summit ArtSpace, Links Community & Family Services, J. Burgess Designs and Bluff Blue Door Gallery. Music will be provided by DJ Ill WIll.
For the evening of Aug. 26, Williams will be a special guest at the Autism Society of Greater Akron’s Casino Royale event at the Rosemont Country Club. All proceeds from this fundraiser will directly support the “Swimming for Autism” scholarship program. First place winner of the poker tournament will be flown to Los Angeles to participate in the Ed Asner Celebrity Poker Tournament to be held on Sept. 9. Second and third place winners will receive prizes valued at $500 and $250 respectively. For more info on the poker tournament, visit autismakron.org/poker.
Summit County is the nation’s first “autism-friendly” county following an April 17 Summit County council meeting in which County Executive Ilene Shapiro sponsored a resolution to make the county an “inclusive and autism friendly community.” Currently, one in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Armani and his family started the Race4Autism Foundation in 2015. Race4Autism’s mission is to drive autism awareness and actively create solution-based opportunities that will provide life enrichment opportunities to people and families affected by autism spectrum disorder. The foundation sponsors Team Armani Racing and makes stock car racing more accessible to people on the autism spectrum by encouraging participation with events like Autism Day at the Track.
For info, visit teamarmaniracing.com/race4autism.