Five-Year-Old With Autism Finds Niche in Bowling

Danville, VA - A five-year-old boy has been making waves in a Danville youth bowling league.

Jacob Hughes has taken top honors in recent bowling tournaments - despite the fact that he has autism.

Jacob's mom - Cindy Hughes - wanted to get her son involved in sports but wasn't sure which one would be right for him.

From the time he picked up a bowling ball, she knew it was a match, and he has been raising awareness for autism with his success.
To all who know 5-year-old Jacob, it's not autism, but his love of bowling that truly makes him unique.
"He started throwing strikes and spares and getting splits, and we were just amazed about how well he was doing and how much fun he was having, " said CIndy Hughes.
Jacob recently competed in a local youth tournament, and the spectators were wowed by the youngest competitor - who took home second and third place trophies in 3 different categories.
"We just kept watching him and he just kept getting better and better, " his mother said.
Now Jacob plans to take his talents to the 2nd Annual Dan River Autism Awareness 5k. After winning 2nd place in the kids competition last year, Jacob is ready to go again.
"Last year we had over 500 people come out. We had people walking, running and volunteering down there, and we're hoping to have that number or even more this year, " said Director Lauren Mathena.
Mathena says more than 30 teams of participants will raise money for the Autism Education Fund. Team Jacob is raffling off a quilt made of puzzle pieces - the symbol of autism.
Cindy Hughes hopes her son's efforts will open more people's eyes about the complex disorder.
"Autistic kids are just like everybody else, they're just a little bit different. I thank God everyday that I have him in my life and I'm just excited to see what the next roller coaster ride is going to be, " she said.
April is Autism Awareness Month. For more information on how you can get involved with the 2nd Annual Dan River Autism Awareness 5K, visit their website
Raffle tickets for the quilt can be purchased at Stitches & Designs II across from Market Square Shopping Center and at All Care Home Health on Nor-Dan Drive.