INDIANAPOLIS: George Mason University's run for the Final Four not withstanding, the Cinderella hoops story of the year revolves around Jason McElwain, the autistic high school senior from upstate New York who scored 20 points in the last three minutes of his school's final regular season game.
McElwain is filming a segment with CBS this weekend, which will feature Mark LaNeve, GM North America VP of vehicle sales, service, and marketing.
LaNeve, whose child is autistic, announced a donation by GM in Jason's name to Cure Autism Now (CAN). CAN is a is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and funding autism research and accelerating the pace of scientific progress toward effective treatments and a cure for autism.
GM, which entered into a national partnership with CAN last August, flew McElwain, his family, and coach to Indianapolis for the finals.
"It's a really nice thing and it's great corporate involvement. But we're not doing this to sell cars," said LaNeve.
Jeff Kuhlman, staff director of GM North America vehicles sales, service, marketing, and communications, said a confluence of events made the effort timely.
"It seemed to all come together when you had this great story with Jason, Mark's devotion to this cause, GM's sponsorship of CAN and the NCAA Finals, and it's all happening on the eve of Autism month in April. It all seem to fit together as an opportunity for GM to help CAN raise additional funds and awareness."
Hillary Manning, communications director, at CAN, said the organization is glad people are continuing to recognize Jason and his achievements.
"We're really thrilled that they have taken this opportunity to recognize Jason as a young man affected by autism and to show how he's overcome his challenges," Manning said. "And just as a tribute to the faith his coach had in him to give him the opportunity to shine. It's been very inspiring to families across the country."