Els for Autism Spectrum Award
The Els for Autism Spectrum Award honors an individual with autism spectrum disorder who has shined a positive light on autism through his/her character, positive attitude, and contribution.
Each year, the Foundation honors the Spectrum Award winner at the Els for Autism Golf Challenge Grand Finale.
2018 Els for Autism Spectrum Award Winner
Adam Jones believes everyone deserves a chance. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, growing up he had a difficult time communicating and engaging in society. At the age of 17, Adam found his passion for watching the move Seabiscuit which lead him to pursue his calling – working with horses and with people on the autism spectrum.
Today, employed full-time as a Barn Attendant at Madison Fields in Dickerson, MD, Adam is an advocate for employing adults on the autism spectrum and contributes to his community towards autism awareness. He believes that people like him deserve a fighting chance and a way to find their true sense of self-worth. Working with horses has helped him be a role model for others as he is passionate, serious, and takes tremendous pride in his work. “When people on the autism spectrum see me handling these huge animals,” Adam said, “they think, I can handle it too!”
2017 Els for Autism Spectrum Award winner:
Rachel Barcellona is a compelling advocate for people with disabilities. Currently, Rachel is the international spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida and was recently elected to their executive board of directors. She was named ambassador for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation and works with this international organization to help people with neurodiversity.
Rachel has won the titles of:
- Miss Largo’s Outstanding Teen in 2014
- Miss Florida Collegiate in 2015
- Miss Florida International in 2016
- Miss Southeast International 2017
She is a member of the International Thespian Honor Society and is an honor student and vocalist who loves sing opera. Congratulations to Rachel Barcellona the 2017 recipient of the Els Autism Spectrum Award!
2016 Els for Autism Spectrum Award winner:
Gloria Mendoza is the 2016 Spectrum Winner. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She holds degrees in both Computer Science and Music. Gloria currently works in SAP’s Premium Engagements Organization.
As a toddler, Gloria struggled with communication skills but excelled in musical abilities. She sang all of the time and demonstrated a very keen interest in all types of music. Her grandmother was a concert pianist so her mother enrolled her in piano and voice lessons at the age of 7. To the surprise of the piano teacher, he discovered that she could easily sight-read music with no previous training. He also discovered that she had perfect pitch.
Gloria was selected to be part of an Early Talent Program (as a full-time employee) within SAP’s Premium Engagements Team. Together with nine other early talents, she embarked on the journey of being certified on the newest technologies. She has motivated the rest of the team to raise the bar and drive a highly collaborative environment where everyone understands and feels the importance of diversity and inclusiveness.
2015 Els for Autism Spectrum Award winner:
Joshua Deer was the first recipient of the Spectrum Award in 2015. Former two-time MVP and Co-captain of his high school golf team, a promising golf instructor and one of the highest fundraisers in the Els for Autism Golf Challenge has ever enjoyed, Joshua Deer, known as “Deersey” to his friends, exemplifies excellence in character, attitude, and in his contribution to help others with autism.
For Josh, diagnosed with autism at age three, the game of golf has played a pivotal part in overcoming the various challenges that life has thrown in his path.
Joshua Deer and his father Andy, whom he credits with being the inspiration behind his passion for golf, teamed up to play in their first Els for Autism Golf Challenge event in 2014 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. That year thanks to some great fundraising, Team Deersey qualified for Las Vegas making Joshua the first individual on the spectrum to compete in the Golf Challenge’s Grand Finale event.
Joshua’s approach to life is infectiously positive. It was this demeanor, coupled with his passion for golf that prompted the Els for Autism team to invite Joshua to help coach at a couple of this year’s #GameOn Autism ™ Golf clinics.
For more information or for questions please contact:
Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager
Phone: 561- 320-9523