Despite weather forecasts of rain and thunderstorms, Sunday turned into a bright sunny day for golfers at the Lapeer Country Club and the first Corner Pieces charity golf outing. A total of 20 teams competed in the charity golf outing, with more members of the public coming to the awards banquet and silent auction later in the day.
Corner Pieces, a Michigan-based non-profit organization, seeks to help children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through technology. After their son was diagnosed with autism at age two, Corner Pieces founders Ben and Tiffany Duff sought every means of helping little Brian cope with the disorder, characterized by communication and behavior problems. Their son Brian, now five, has “classic autism” and remains nearly entirely non-verbal. However, they discovered a year after his diagnosis that using technology like the iPod Touch helped their son with behavioral therapy techniques and communication skills.
Sparty entertained many of the golfers at the Lapeer Country Club on Sunday. Above, the mascot examines the fairway with a golfer before teeing off. The benefits of the iPod Touch and iPad have proved to be useful to parents of autistic children across the nation over the past two years. Communication flash cards, which can be expensive and easily damaged or lost, are available through the Apple App Store. By using them on an iPod, the cards and other useful apps can be carried anywhere without the risk of losing them or tearing them.
The Duffs founded Corner Pieces last year with the goal of distributing iPods and iPads to individual children and to schools to help children with autism. Corner Pieces is also working on the development of apps that will be made available at low prices and made specifically with autistic children in mind.
The charity golf outing on Sunday was the first major fundraiser the organization has held. Through the teams of foursomes that played 18 holes of golf, event and hole sponsors and the silent auction, more than $5,000 was raised for Corner Pieces.
There were two special guests at the golf outing that helped draw in the participants. Dave Rayner, kicker for the Detroit Lions, attended the golf outing. He mingled with the other players, took pictures and signed autographs, and even played all 18 holes of golf with a foursome. Rayner’s generosity was greatly appreciated by Corner Pieces and many guests were happy to meet him.
The other special guest at the golf outing was Sparty the Spartan, the official mascot of Michigan State University. Sparty kicked off the event and mingled with players at the club house before they began to play. The Duffs, who brought their son Brian to the outing, were especially pleased when he ran up to Sparty with a big smile on his face. Sparty continued to entertain the players out on the golf course, driving from hole to hole to take pictures with them and goof around in true mascot fashion.
To one Lapeer family, however, the most memorable part of the event came during the awards ceremony. Through the generous support of donors and the event sponsors, Corner Pieces was able to purchase an iPad for a local child with autism. Jennifer Brown, of Lapeer, was invited to attend the awards ceremony along with her five year-old daughter, Breanna, who has autism and is completely non-verbal. Brown had tears in her eyes when she described the struggles of a single mother raising a child with autism and the gratitude she felt for the gift. The iPad was preloaded with special apps for autism and Corner Pieces promised to provide her with their latest app when it becomes available later in the year.