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Inspirational Tuesday: A Hoop Dream

March 9, 2010

Jason McElwain is a young man who didn’t let autism stop him from his high school dream.

Jason was diagnosed with autism at a young age, but always had a passion for playing basketball. Though he didn’t make the team, he was appointed team manager for Greece Athena High School in New York. He accepted his role on the team, setting up practice, getting water at games, and being enthusiastic. In three years, he only missed one game.

On February 15, 2006, coach Jim Johnson decided to put Jason on the team roster, so he could be given a jersey and sit on the bench for the team’s final home game of the season. Even though he was a senior, Jason never thought he would get the chance to actually play. But with four minutes left in the game, Athena Greece had opened up a big lead, and Johnson called for #52 off the end of the bench to play the end of the game.

His teammates desperately wanted him to score a basket and kept passing him the ball. Initially, Jason missed his first two shots pretty badly. But then J-Mac, as his teammates called him, got “hotter than a pistol”, making six three-pointers and another shot, before the game ended. When he hit his first shot, the crowd erupted and his teammates went crazy jumping up and down. Shot after shot kept going in and J-Mac was unstoppable for that moment in time. As soon as the final buzzer rang, fans from the stands stormed the court in celebration.

To his teammates, Jason McElwain was always one of them. Not a team manager, but a teammate. His 20 points on senior night were simply magical. A dream come true.

In life after high school, McElwain has completed his GED courses and plans to go to college. At his job at a grocery market, customers occasionally recognize him and ask for his autograph. He also travels across the United States to help raise funds for autism research.

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