Dan Marino: A Game-Changer for Children with Autism

Dan Marino: A Game-Changer for Children with Autism

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Dan Marino is a champion in more ways than one. Sure, he broke many NFL records as a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. But his biggest accomplishment to date,  second to being a husband and father of six, is being co-founder of The Dan Marino Foundation.

The foundation aims at encouraging independence for children and young adults living with autism and disabilities. It also offers volunteering opportunities to individuals who want to help bring awareness to the cause.

I had the chance to catch up with one of America’s favorite athletes at the Grand Opening of Canali in the Bal Harbour Shops. We discussed his inspiration behind the foundation and where it’s headed, as well as ways you can join its team (no football experience needed, of course!).

About The Dan Marino Foundation (From my informal chat with the man behind it)
- Dan Marino and his wife, Claire, established the foundation in 1992, shortly after discovering that their son Michael (now 23) was diagnosed with autism at two. It was the help and support from others that showed the Marino family that they could give back to families with similar experiences, and so came about DMF.

Source: The Oracle
Dan Marino with his son, Michael, who is now 23.

- Through the foundation’s Summer Supported Training and Employment Program (STEPS), young adults with developmental disabilities are taught life skills, which include gaining experience in work environments and learning how to better communicate with others.

- The Marino Vocational College, which will allow these young adults a chance at receiving post-secondary education, will likely open its doors in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in Fall 2014. On this note, did you know that about 80 percent of young adults living with developmental disabilties in Florida are not qualified to receive education post-high school? DMF’s college will truly be a game-changer, and as Marino assures me, “It will make a difference…”

- …But here is how YOU can make a difference: Attend DMF events, from auctions to walks, where you can connect with those interested in the cause, too. You’ll even get to meet Dan and Claire. While most of these events take place in South Florida, you can make a donation through the DMF “Donate” page.

Just as Dan Marino brought us much joy in the ’80s and ’90s (from the comfort of our couches), we can return the favor by cheering for those with developmental disabilities as they make strides toward independence.