Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Blue Wave 2015

Last year, with Dynamic Dezigns, I started The Blue Wave which changed the checkered flag in auto racing from the traditional black and white to a blue and white in an effort in increase autism awareness. The picture to the right was the last race I used those flags in 2014 at the SKUSA Springnats in Dallas, Texas. My personal intent was to only use them in April, seeing that it is autism awareness month, and the flags were a stellar success last year. A portion of each sale benefit autism awareness and through other fundraising methods I did the project raised a tick under $4,000. However, this is more than just a way to raise money. My goal when using these flags was to make people look, think, and ask, "Hey, what's with the blue flags?" That's exactly what happened a couple nights ago at the Chili Bowl.

The Chili Bowl had an autism awareness night at the flagman there, Terry Mattox, brought his Blue Wave checkered which can be seen with the assortment of flags in the stand.

Autism awareness is something that has various levels. I think most people have heard of the word "autism" now but there's more than just the word and one of my goals with this flag, as mentioned above, was to not bring the word autism to a person but make them curious as to why something which has been the same for over 100 years is different. This allows an interaction and even if it's just a few words that's going to be a few words more than they knew previously.

The other factor in all this is to show support. There's going to be people at races who need no introduction to autism and they aren't going to need to be told what the blue checkered means. This color of blue has, along with the multicolored autism ribbon, have become the top choices in autism awareness related materials so for those with, or those who have a family member with autism will need no introduction as to what the significance is to the flag.

As I viewed the Facebook chatter about the flag at The Chili Bowl I realized something; my intent and dream for this flag has materialized. You see, last year I put together a video (you can view it HERE as well as order yourself your own Blue Wave checkered) at the end of February and the project was somewhat rushed and I knew I had used it at my events, but in terms of outside my own world I didn't know if it would catch on, or if more than just a handful of others would use it, but seeing it at one of the most prestigious events in dirt track racing has shown that this flag can achieve the dream I had set out when we rolled it out.

What does the future hold for this flag? I'll be honest and say I hope that we reach a day where every major and minor series, and every series in between, use it in April. When I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2003 I felt isolated, alone, and hopeless. I didn't know anyone else cared, or even knew that what I had existed. To say this flag can bring hope may be a stretch, and then again, for a select few (or hopefully many) it may just do that to show that someone out there cares. At presentations I give I'm told time and time again that one of the most important factors in that all important four letter word known as hope is that knowing that a person isn't alone in their struggle. When I started writing my goal was to, "explain myself so the world won't hate me as much." Extreme? It may sound that way but that was my perception of the way the world viewed me and had I known that there were others with my struggles, and had I known that other people care, and others are trying to increase awareness AND understanding of the struggles I face, well, I think I would have experienced hope much sooner rather than later.

I'm highly optimistic that we will see The Blue Wave checkered fly over race tracks all over the world in the month of April (and others) someday. As with all things with awareness and understanding it starts out at the grassroots level and work upwards and I'm thankful to The Chili Bowl and Terry Mattox for furthering the effort and working The Blue Wave to higher and higher levels.

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