.Our 7 yr old son who has autism.. has a love of the NY Jets and now their new Aviator drumline. ..I wrote to Autism speaks on fb about how nice the drumline was at a recent game and my son began to have a new love for them ..He even had me help him make a drum just like theirs which he would bring to games ..THE NY Jets and the Aviators heard about him through facebookand offered to give him a special day with them..We went on Sunday and although the Jets lost against Miami we gained a whole new respect for the Jets organization as a whole..This is a followup story I wrote to Autism speaks.
A Day as An Honorary Jr Aviator for Marvin who has Special Needs by Kara Viscito .
Where to begin....to give a little back history Marvin who is 7 yr old and has autism was featured in a blog on Autism Speaks about his love for the NY JETS and The Jets Aviators (Gallant Entertainment) ..The NY Jets and The CEO Of Gallant Entertainment reached out to me and stated they wanted to do something special for Marvin and asked if he could spend the day with them..Of course we were honored ..and this is where the 'best day ever" started ...
The night before Marvin was so excited ..he layed out his uniform that the NY JETS had sent him..practiced on his drum that he and I made and off to bed..Wake up was early at 5am and this was first time he ever got up dressed and ate without a fuss..
.Once at stadium we checked in got our 'entertainment passes " and got to see the field We were greeted by the NY Jets,,Trish who Marvin has met at a few events and he was excited to see..Then he took it all in .Marvin was in awe as he looked around but still kept asking where are the Aviators .
.Next we went in to greet them ..He had such a smile and was so excited his uniform was just like theirs .
The day now began..time for rehearsal with Kyle on the field for Jets Chant Marvin followed along and even started getting rhythm down pat .Time to go Kyle and Marvin met back up with the Aviators and now time to march through the parking lots ..Up and down stopping to play and get fans involved Marvin was such a trooper and kept right up with them beat for beat rhythm for rhythm (an advantage of the Autism as he memorizes quickly and only needs to see/hear something once or twice) ..Marvin was so proud he watched intensely and did exact movements and beats that the drumline did ..You would think all this walking he would want to stop but no "I am fine Momma I am an Aviator he says "
.Next off to the player walkway .Marvin enjoyed greeting the fans and getting them to cheer He led in front of band and the fans were simply amazing ..Some called out Marvins name directly saying they read about him and others just awed with how cute he was as he gave out hi fives and played his drum..As he approached the stadium you can hear the annoucement ..
"Now welcome Marvin and the Aviators " He couldn't believe it ..'Momma that is me ..they said my name " he was just so thrilled ..he stands on the side and beats on his drum as coaches, players, cheerleaders and even security :) gave him smiles,cheers and hi fives
Once they led the players into the stadium they marched to Metlife Central where they got to play a few numbers ..Here was just another fantastic moment as complete strangers came up to me and my husband talking about how great he is doing and how touching for the NY Jets and the Jets Aviators to do such a thing for a fan ..Marvin has now felt comfortable in his role and even began to pose for all those who asked to take pics with him .
Time to move on The Jets Aviators led by Marvin marched through the crowds and onto the field .They were now gonna do their pregame performance and Jets Chants for the crowds.. We thought Marvin would need to be on the sideline for this as he never had any rehearsal with their numbers but they still invited him right in their with them and he did perfect..He even got on the trinitron
..After their performance he marches to center field to lead the Jets chant with Aviator Kyle ..Marvin took ownership of his role and again did another great job ...
Now time to march through the fans again from field up to the Flight deck...Here again people were just so kind and cheered him on ..Once on the Aviators flight deck it was break time and they had Marvin's favorite food ..Papa Johns personal plain pizza lol He even said I can't believe it they have my pizza yea :) Here again I ask Marvin do you want to go he says "No I am an Aviator" and they go to pick up their instruments and off goes Marvin .."I gotta go play" and runs back to them and joins right in .. By 3rd quarter you can tell Marvin was getting exhausted and he feel asleep on the platform but not for long .The Jets Aviators began to play and Marvin jumps up looks for his drum puts it on and goes beat for beat with them LOL
After the game the Aviators march one last time back downstairs and to the Metlife Central stage ..Here is where the tears were shed for me ..while playing a little boy began to dance in the center ..Marvin looks up to the Aviator next to him and points to little boy (I later found out Marvin knew his job was to stay with the Aviators and not walk away as Marvin- due to the autism has the wandering trait..so he asked if he could go by the little boy and was told ok) So Marvin went to meet little boy in the center and then takes out another set of drumsticks that the Jets Aviators gave him and he gives to little boy to play with him ..So touching so loving the crowd began to cheer louder for him ..when boy was done he handed Marvin the drumsticks back..Marvin puts back in his bag and marches back to his spot and keeps playing ..
The Aviators now march to the back where they get to say their goodbyes ...I asked Marvin to pls thank everyone and he stands up and says "thank you so much this was the BEST DAY EVER" and he proceeds to go to each and everyone of them and hi fives them..As we walked out so many staff, security, fans gave praise to Marvin one event staff member stopped Marvin as he crossed the field one last time and asked how his day went he said again "It was the BEST Day EVER" then the gentleman asked Marvin who his favorite player was .."#22 Ed Reed" Marvin says Which i give a second look as Marvin has always been about the number 10 (The Autism everything always in 10s at grocery store has to be aisle 10 when asked favorite player always Santonio Holmes #10 why I wondered did he change I asked later and he said he heard a fan say 22 is best and Aviators listen to their fans LOL what an impact this has made
What an amazing day ,, what a proud mommy I am ... what a proud fan of the Jets organization I am ..They reached out to me there was no contest, raffle drawing or prize he won ..they had no obligation to Marvin we dont have someone we are friends with in the organization ..no The NY JETS and the Jets Aviators (Gallant Entertaiment) just knew they had a chance and a means to make a difference in a childs world...They did because that is who they are ..they care about their fan base ..the get it ..sometimes making someones day is what it is all about One little boy who has his challenges daily from living life through script to not understanding danger or not even being able to read peoples socials cues to the teases he gets from kids his age /.all that was frozen in time for a brief moment. .Marvin changed this day ..he did not have one meltdown at all which is a daily thing for him due to frustration with expressing himself .Not one- he followed directions , he thought about what he needed to do and he landed it .
.Since this day he has been more relaxed he has been so proud of himself and has been discussing his experience to others (which is another huge obstacle for some kids on spectrum) He got to experience not only a day with the NY JETs Aviators he got to be part of something ..He 'fit in" he was An Aviator and they did not judge him they accepted him and both their worlds blended and they made beautiful music together. ..
So again I need to publically Thank Autism Speaks for running the original article that made this day possible...to the NY JETS< Trish, Shaun Gallant, and JETS Aviators for their generosity and the care they showed .and to all the fans who took time out of their day to cheer on my son.. .We (my husband , Marvin and I) are honored to have this experience as I am writing this I am at a loss for words on how to express enough gratitude that equals how I feel. to be able to witness the way my son just light up with excitement and continues to be excited about when speaking of his day..He was even on CBS at halftime playing with the Aviators and he called his grandpa up and said 'did you see me I told you I was an Aviator want my autograph LOL" ..we got calls from so many who saw him and he just lights up even more when speaking to them.
My final words would be for all those who are reading this if ever at a Jets game and see the Aviators give a louder cheer, clap, dance or just a smile (add NY JETs or Gallant Entertainment or Autism Speaks on your facebook or twitter and give them a thank you on their page on behalf of Marvin) ..We have learned the work these men and women put in carrying all that equipment from morning to late walking through the crowds is exhausting just thinking about ..Add in the time to rehearse and coordinate just to add to our experience should get accolades ...Even if the team is losing take a breath..so many are fighting bigger battles and your reaction could just make a difference like the NY JETS did and the Jets Aviators did to help one little boy have "THE BEST DAY EVER"