Community Champions: Befriending a Child with Autism
ORLANDO, Fla. -- "I heard I am meeting a Champion today!" MVP shouted, as he and John Cena introduced themselves to 12-year-old Reno Williams while at Raw. And it was true, there was a Champ backstage that day, the newest WWE Community Champion. (PHOTOS)
Born legally blind and with Asperger's Syndrome -- a form of autism -- Reno spends his free time educating the community with his self-made brochure and accompanying presentation, "How to Be a Good Friend to Kids with Autism." This December, however, that brochure has been published as a bound-book, Reno's World: Presenting Autism and Related Disabilities to Youth, which is available on Amazon.com.
According to his mother, Tuesday Williams, Reno discovered he worked differently from his peers while completing a school project in fifth grade.
"He started researching Asperger's and, since he didn't understand the terminology, he created a brochure titled, ‘What is Autism?' and he began passing it to friends, family and peers," Tuesday recalled. "Then, after that, he partnered with the Center for Autism Related Disorders (CARD) and created the brochure and presentation about befriending children with Autism."
Reno added: "I wanted people to know about Autism Spectrum Disorder, that it's a brain disorder that weakens a person's ability to communicate. And I wanted to teach kids how to be a friend to kids with autism -- to not be mean to those with it and to reduce the stigma of bullying."
Citing key points from his presentation on how to be a good friend, Reno noted: "Kids can not bully other kids with autism. They can sit next to them in class or the lunchroom, be nice to them, ask them to play because they don't know how to ask themselves, and make sure they tell an adult if kids are bullying them."
Soon after creating his presentation, Reno began traveling to schools to speak with students, educators and hundreds of others, teaching them what he has learned about autism. He reached out to thousands more when he was a guest on a local radio show.
"He's pretty amazing, because autism is a communication disorder and, for him to get up and talk to crowds is just incredible," Tuesday said.
Even though Reno has been recognized with a number of awards for spreading autism awareness, Tuesday said that being a WWE Community Champion is by far Reno's most exciting accolade, as he was invited to attend a WWE event, and meet Superstars John Cena, MVP, Hornswoggle and Primo.
"I like wrestling a lot and John Cena is one of my favorites," Reno explained. "He said I was the first Community Champion he had ever met, and he was happy he could present me the award. That was really cool."
According to Tuesday, the visit has been by far "the highlight of Reno's 12 years. He still talks about meeting the Superstars every day."
And what can't Tuesday help talking about each day? How proud she is of her son.
"Reno's biggest goal was to start educating his peers because there are so many children with autism," she said. "All he wanted was to make a difference, and I feel he truly has."
Which is why, as MVP said, Reno is a true champion, a WWE Community Champion.
If someone you know is getting involved and making a difference in your community, nominate them as a WWE Community Champion at firstname.lastname@example.org.