Who doesn’t love a challenge? Ten-year old Dandy Lion Little League and North Pocono Cal Ripken player Brayden “the goose” von Ahnen sure does! During the 2018 fall baseball season, Brayden stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with a creative idea.

Combining his immense love of baseball with his desire to make a difference in the lives of a local community, this North Pocono Intermediate School fifth grader decided to launch “Hits for Autism.”

This season-long fundraiser helped raise money for the Parents Loving Children Through Autism (PLCTA) foundation. The PLCTA is a local group that provides support, education, and outings for the Autistic community.

Brayden has been involved for many years with this foundation through autistic awareness events, but this summer he desired to “do more” in his quest of helping his local autistic friends.

With “Hits for Autism,” donors pledged an amount for each base hit he earned or donated a specific amount to the cause. One hundred percent of all monies raised will be donated to the PLCTA.

His mom kept track of his hits and updated donors on his progress throughout the season.

Unfortunately, the rain forced a few game cancellations, but in the end, Brayden had 16 total hits in only 7 games!

Based on donor pledges, he is expecting this number of hits will raise approximately $500 for his cause.

In addition to “Hits for Autism,” Brayden has racked up quite a few volunteer hours in the autistic community over his ten short years.

He started attending events with his mom at just four months old. He has had many playdates to help improve social skills and simply to be a friend to children in the autistic community.

Brayden also participated in the local Autism Foundation walk for the last three years assisting his dad with set up of the race tent, greeting runners, handing out fruit and drinks, and after the race, passing out medals and trophies to the winners.

Brayden offers a helping hand at the Raise Your Voice talent show each year, too.

He collects donations of warm winter clothing to be given to area shelters and works as a greeter at the event.

For the upcoming Raise Your Voice event in November, Brayden was chosen as a guest speaker and asked to share stories of his determination to build a kinder world and how he helps to say “no” to bullying.

There is still time to donate to Brayden's “Hits for Autism” cause if interested. Check out the Facebook page “Hits for Autism” to donate or for more information.

Congratulations, Brayden!

Thank you for always spreading kindness and helping others…and nice job hitting it out of the park with this fun and fabulous idea. Keep up the good work.

Jimmy Bianchi
11th Grade NPHS