2019-01-18 / Community

Volk Packaging, Red Claws to promote awareness

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


During the Maine Red Claws Autism Awareness Night, sponsored by Volk Packaging, the team will wear a special adorned with Autism Awareness puzzle pieces. Some of the specialty uniforms will be auctioned off during the event to benefit Spurwink Services in Portland. (Courtesy photo) During the Maine Red Claws Autism Awareness Night, sponsored by Volk Packaging, the team will wear a special adorned with Autism Awareness puzzle pieces. Some of the specialty uniforms will be auctioned off during the event to benefit Spurwink Services in Portland. (Courtesy photo) BIDDEFORD – The Maine Red Claws basketball team with sponsor Volk Packaging will host Autism Awareness Night Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Portland Expo, with proceeds to benefit Spurwink Services.

Every year, the Maine Red Claws hosts theme nights for special causes, having hosted games in the past to raise awareness for causes such as breast cancer and domestic violence. When Volk Packaging – with Scarborough resident Derek Volk at the helm as executive director – became a corporate sponsor of the team this year, the timing was right for the Red Claws to host an autism awareness night.

Autism awareness is an important cause to the Volk family. Dylan Volk, the oldest and only son of Derek and Amy Volk, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 8. Together, Derek and Dylan Volk wrote a book about their shared experience titled, “Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum,” released in 2015. In October 2018, Dylan Volk released his follow-up to their story. The book, titled, “Bad Choices Make Good Stories: My Life With Autism,” details his struggles and triumphs as a person as a person on the Autism spectrum.

“This is definitely a cause close to my heart,” said Derek Volk.

Though Dylan Volk, 27, now resides in Los Angeles, he will fly home as the honorary Red Claws captain for the game. He will also have books available for purchase at the event.

The game will be sensory friendly, with lights remaining at one level throughout the game and a lowered level of sound.

“We want to do our best to accommodate the needs of those with autism who are attending the game,” said Dajuan Eubanks, president of the Maine Red Claws, an NBA G League team. “Our focus will be to not triggering any of our fans that night.”

Funds raised during the evening will benefit Spurwink Services based out of Portland, which provides behavioral health services to children, adults and families. Throughout the night there will be raffles and a 50/50 to benefit the program.

According to Eubanks, the team will not need to change the way they play to fit in with the sensory-friendly accommodations and are aware that conditions will be a little different during the Feb. 9 game.

The Red Claws will face the Raptors 905, a basketball team from Ontario (905 is the area code for the Greater Toronto area). The Red Claws are currently 8-17, with the Raptors 14-11.

The Volk Packaging Corporation is housed on Morin Street in Biddeford, and as part of their sponsorship for the game, the team will wear specialty uniforms. As opposed to their traditional red and white uniforms, the Autism Night uniforms incorporate the autism-awareness puzzle piece motif, with the negative space of the jerseys patterned with interlocking puzzle pieces in a shade of light blue and the numbers and panels on the side patterned with rainbow colored puzzle pieces. A number of the uniforms will be auctioned off during the game to benefit Spurwink.

The Lady Red Claws, the dance team that performs at each game, will wear their usual uniforms, but have been made aware that all routines and sound-levels need to be kept sensory friendly.

“This is a great idea, and the timing was really perfect for us to sponsor it,” Volk said. “And it’s for a great cause too.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased through the Red Claws website at maine. gleague.nba.com and range in price from $8 to $32.

“I think it’s going to be great night,” Eubanks said.

FMI

The Maine Red Claws Autism Awareness Night will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Portland Expo. Tickets range from $8 to $32 and can be purchased at www.maine.gleague.nba.com. Proceeds from the event will benefit Spurwink Services in Portland.

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