The following is a letter written by the mother of a young Jets fan with autism, originally submitted for a blog on AutismSpeaks.org, whose gameday experience became a moment that will never be forgotten thanks to the Aviators Drumline and the Jets:
My little boy Marvin has autism. When Marvin was about 3 or 4 years old, I — a diehard Jets fan — decided to take him to a game with me. To my surprise, he sat in his seat and was mesmerized by the players. On our way home he began to sing the National Anthem. He had never heard it before the game, but he was able to teach it to himself. I have had season tickets for many years and decided to take him to all the games with me after that.
He started asking questions and holding conversations about the game. Now don't get me wrong, even today he doesn't understand the whole concept of the game. He just knows there are two teams playing and the Jets better win (He likes to do a touchdown dance when they score!)
Marvin is now 7 years old. He and I have gone to almost every home game, training camp and other events, and he now even has a love for the cheerleaders. He asked one of the Jets football players at camp, Stephen Hill, for money. When Stephen asked for what, Marvin said, "Well, my momma won't give me what I need to take the cheerleaders on a date to Toys R Us!"
This year, the Jets have a new drumline team called "The Aviators." Marvin saw them and although he only had three drum lessons with a friend, he couldn't stand still when he heard them. He was so excited. On the ride home he asked if we could make him a "Jets drum" to match the Jets drummers. That week, we painted one of his little drums green, tied a strap to it and added some drumsticks. He was ready.
*Then when we went to the next game on Nov. 3, Marvin started playing his drums when the drumline came out before the game. I just figured he would play on the side. Then something amazing happened… THE AVIATORS SAW MARVIN AND DECIDED TO LET HIM PLAY WITH THEM!!!
They were simply amazing. He absolutely loved it! He played along following their movements and following along with their beats. When he was done, fans came up to him giving him high-fives and even wanting to take pictures with him. He told me it was his best day ever.
This was a moment in both our lives we will never forget. As a mom, that moment meant so much. There was a sense of pride that he will be OK. He proved to me that no matter what, he will adapt. The Aviators will never know how much they touched my family to just accept him for him. No excuses, no apologies.
Marvin was accepted into their circle and he kept up with them. It was just a great moment in life. He can do anything and he makes me proud every single day. No matter the tantrums, breakdowns, lack of sleep, etc., all of that just washed away.
Moments like this just overfill my heart with love. It made me think of Marvin's loves. He loves the number 10, he loves things blue, he loves pizza, he loves the Jets, and he loves his brother Erik and sister Samantha. He just proved to me we need more love in life and he definitely shared it that day he played with The Aviators.
So, publicly, I would like to thank them for not judging my son and for opening their world to my son's world and making great music together. I'll always be thankful for that.
I would like to add that since the above was written, the NY Jets and the Aviators have contacted me and stated they were so touched and would like to do something special for Marvin. The New York Jets and the Aviators invited Marvin out to a game for a day with the Aviators to watch them during sound check, follow them through the lots and watch them during their pregame performance on the field. I couldn't believe it. The act of kindness they did by allowing my son to play for the brief time with them was so much. They now are asking to make a dream come true for him.
I had no idea how to tell him so I decided just to video his reaction. Due to the autism, he rocks back and forth and doesn't look long directly at you. But his reaction is priceless and I think he is beyond excited. He has since asked to sleep with his drum so he can practice LOL. Thank you to the NEW YORK JETS and thank you to the AVIATORS. You have not only made my son so happy, you have once again shown that you care about the community and your faithful fan base. J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!