PINETOP-LAKESIDE — Sixty local autistic children attended the White Mountains Autism Foundation’s Fifth Annual Disc Golf for Autism tournament Sept. 17 and 18.
The participants played with some of the top disc golf competitors in the world, including Lakeside resident Nick Duran.
“Duran was the first place pro champion last year,” A.J. Peterson said.
Peterson is deeply involved in raising local awareness about autism.
He played throughout the tournament alongside autistic kids paired with known disc golfers like Autism Champion for 2016, Kobe Frampton, Ken Swaford, Jack Woods, Bryant Begay, and Andrew Hassard.
Ten autistic kids competed throughout the entire event, which was held at Mountain Meadow Recreation Complex.
Dakota Parsons, 19, was one of them.
“It’s kind of hard if you haven’t played before,” he said.
Parsons noted that a lot of people might think a disc golf disc is as light as a common frisbee. Not so, competition discs are heavier, he said.
Parsons was one of the high scorers at the event.
He said his secret is the same as any competitor’s. Practice, practice, and more practice.
Parsons is an example of a higher spectrum autistic person.
He said the biggest issue he has with people is they generally have a lack of patience with him because of his autism.
But Parsons has developed coping skills and has the support of his family to help him through the hard times.
President/Co-founder of the White Mountain Autism Foundation, Don McMasters, has a son named Ryan who has a mid-level of the spectrum of autism.
McMasters said the thing parents of autistic children worry about the most is what will happen to them when the parents die. Who will take care of them?
That is why McMasters is doing whatever he can to help bring to reality a local facility dedicated to housing and caring for young people with autism.
He said the thing the foundation needs most right now to get started is a land donation.
Land in the White Mountains can be expensive depending on the location. Getting a donation would give them a starting point.
“Once you have land it is a lot easier to move forward,” McMasters said.
Anyone wishing to donate can contact McMasters at 928-240-1214, or by mail at White Mountains Autism Foundation, P.O. Box 1886, Lakeside, AZ 85929.
For more information about the non-profit foundation or about the White Mountains Autism Foundation’s Sixth Annual Disc Golf for Autism scheduled for the third week in September 2017 go to www.facebook.com/White-Mountains-Autism-Foundation.
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