Wrestling tournament aims at autism (with photos)

By Perry Russom

January 26, 2014 Updated Jan 26, 2014 at 8:40 PM EDT

Town of Tioga, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Wrestlers between the ages of four and 12 hit the mats in Tioga County Sunday for an annual tournament, but this year, they were wrestling for a new reason.

Where there's wrestling, you're likely to find Jared Lamb watching from the sidelines.

"He comes to every tournament and sits and watches all of the kids and he wants to wrestle," said Julie Lamb, Jared's mother.

This is the first time he's watching a tournament created in his honor.

The 11-year-old has autism.

"It's very challenging," said Julie. "We're very lucky to have Jared. He's very loving."

Around 250 wrestlers strapped up for the inaugural Tioga Tigers Take Down Autism tournament.

Half of the money raised from the tournament will go toward Autism Research and Support with the other half going to Tioga Youth Wrestling.

While Jared doesn't wrestle, he's always close to the mat during matching, cheering on his older brother and friends.

"He always makes the kids smile," said Brandon MacWhinnie, coach of Tioga Central's wrestling team. "He comes to all of the practices. He yells at the kids in practice if they're not moving hard enough."

The Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention report one in 88 children have been identified as having autism.

"It definitely opened up our eyes to autism and stuff, having him a part of the team," said Ryan MacWhinnie, coach for Tioga Youth Wrestling.

While experts aren't sure of the exact cause of autism, money from the tournament will go toward finding that answer.

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