“Eagles for a Cause” walkathon to raise funds to benefit autistic students

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Members of Madison Christian’s girls’ basketball team prepare for their Eagles for a Cause Walkathon on May 15. Pictured front to back are Nia Price, Marissa Murphy, Aislynn Cannon, Kiley Wray and head coach Jeff Howell.

Members of the Madison Christian basketball teams will exchange hoops and the court for pavement—at least for one day—in support of a first annual walkathon event benefitting autistic students at the Bridgeway Academy of Ohio in Columbus.

“Eagles for a Cause has been a Madison Christian School sponsored event for four years now and born from Athletic Director, Andy Scholz,” said girls varsity basketball team head coach Jeff Howell. “All athletic teams at the school have selected a cause—breast cancer, autism, sepsis, etc.—that is close to them where they will raise funds from t-shirt sales, athletic event proceeds, etc. and donate all proceeds to the cause that they have selected.”

Howell said he came up with the idea after COVID shut down most activities and close interactions. He thought that an outdoor event was the safest thing his athletes could do and, at the same time, raise awareness and funds for autism at Bridgeway Academy.

Howell has a nephew with autism who attends the Bridgeway Academy of Ohio, the team’s scorekeeper has a daughter who suffers from autism, and he knows there are many families are personally touched by autism.

“I approached Bridgeway four years ago to discuss becoming a long-term partner where our team would put on basketball clinics, come to the school to read, or play games and other things to interact with the special needs children,” said Howell. “Our first Eagles for a Cause event was a regular season basketball game at Madison Christian where proceeds from t-shirt, ticket and concession sales netted $1,000 for Bridgeway. The partnership has been a tremendous success and we hope to expand the reach to our entire school and not just our basketball program.”

According to Howell, Bridgeway Academy is a nonprofit education and therapy center serving children with autism and developmental disabilities. It was founded by speech-language pathologist Abby David and music therapist Erin Nealy in 2005 as Helping Hands Center for Special Needs.

The Eagles for a Cause walkathon, open to the public, will be held May 15 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bridgeway Academy, 1350 Alum Creek Drive. Participants include Madison Christian students and stakeholders, Bridgeway Academy students and stakeholder,s and event sponsor Thrive Nutrition and their staff.

“We are thankful to all organizers and sponsors of this event including Thrive Nutrition, Madison Christian School, and the staff of Bridgeway Academy,” said Howell. “We are excited for this event and hope the funds raised will put a smile on a child’s face.”

To donate, visit app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/HelpingHandsCenter/walkathon.html

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