By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - A Cornwall mother with an autistic daughter took the term 'step up to the plate' to new heights this Saturday in Ottawa.
After participating in the Home Runs For Autism annual fundraising event for CHEO, baseball is more than just a game to Jen Fullarton.
The local school teacher was the only female player sharing the field with heavy hitter Jose Canseco, a former CFL Football player, WWF Wrestler, UFC Fighter, and ECHL and WHL hockey player Glenn Kulka.
Inspired by her five-year-old daughter, Karli, who was diagnosed with autism when she was just 15 months old, Fullarton is leading the charge for autism awareness in the city and eastern Ontario.
She coordinated Autism Ontario’s Raise the Flag campaign in April for 87 schools within the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), before hosting a two-part fundraising event later that month.
After discussing the successful impact of her efforts with the Autism Ontario officials, Fullarton decided to contact the organizers for Home Runs For Autism. Because of her ongoing quest to break the stigmas attached to the condition, she was asked to play at the popular event as a representative for parents whose children are living with autism.
"I am proud to say that I was up to bat twice, and both times I hit a decent ball just beyond short stop...never had a strike," she said.
Both times at bat her ball was caught by Cody Ceci of the Ottawa Senators. When Fullarton acted as catcher, she couldn't resist the opportunity to razz him about it.
All joking aside, she says the event raises over $10,000 for the cause. Fullarton purchased 100 tickets for her Cornwall supporters to help cheer her on and hopefully meet a sports icon.
"It was a blast. I made some good friends and some important contacts for my next autism fundraiser," said Fullarton.