Stephanie Ennis and Nicole Bottino, mothers of daughters
with autism, saw a billboard advertisement for the Eagles
Cheer Clinic. With both of their girls being non-verbal,
they wondered if such a clinic would be feasible for their
The Eagles quickly assured them their daughters would
be both welcomed and accommodated, sending social
stories and visual schedules to help them prepare for
the event. For families living with autism, each day and
experience can be unpredictable but knowing what to expect
was extremely helpful and the first step towards having a
good day. For Stephanie, it was heartwarming to see her
daughter Grayson tolerate an environment more than she
thought she could. Nicole’s daughter Dominique, who is 12,
immediately felt comfortable, and even like a VIP, upon their
arrival and receipt of a sensory bag and a tour. Dominique
uses a device to communicate and everyone learned how to
use it. A particularly special moment for Nicole was when
another participant came over to her to ask questions about
Dominique. The inclusion of Dominique at the event opened
up an opportunity for this girl to broaden her understanding
of the capabilities of people with special needs.
For last year’s Eagles Autism Challenge, the Ennis family
raised money at a local ice cream shop in advance of
walking in the 5K, and they are looking forward to this year’s
The Bottino family also understands firsthand how
important funding research is and feel the impact directly.
They recently participated in a SPARK DNA study at Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia and have been told that there is a
mutation in Dominique’s gene, which is believed to be the
cause of her autism.
Through the Eagles Autism Foundation’s events the families
have found a welcoming environment that accommodates
their daughters’ needs and gives them the tools and
opportunity to fully participate. Both Stephanie and Nicole
felt that everyone they interacted with at the Eagles, from the
initial inquiry to the cheerleaders and the event staff that led
their daughters’ groups were well trained, kind, inclusive and
sensitive to any special requirements.
The Eagles created a welcoming and inclusive experience
for two children with autism at this year’s Cheer Clinic.
Grayson Ennis with an
30 IMPACT REPORT 2020 Eagles Autism Foundation eaglesautismfoundation.org
Both girls were able to fully
participate in the clinic.