GCHS annual ‘powder puff’ football game benefits Autism Speaks

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Hailey Leach, a sophomore at Grant County High School, is on a mission to raise awareness of autism and she’s taking her game to the Grant County High School football field on Nov. 8.
Leach, the GCHS Family Career and Community Leaders of America Chapter president, will be leading a ‘powder puff” football team against the Williamstown High School FCCLA Chapter at 5 p.m.
The cost to play is $15, which includes a T-shirt. Gate admission is $1 and concessions will be available for purchase.
During half time of the game, the GCHS Marching Band will face off against the WHS Marching Band in a battle of the bands.
Proceeds from the event will be given to Autism Speaks.
Grant County has held an annual powder puff game and donated the proceeds to various charities. Last year, more than $500 was raised for the Dragon Fly Foundation.
Autism Speaks is near to Leach’s heart since her brother, Matthew, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.
Hailey watched Matthew struggle to fit in when he started middle school because other students did not understand him.
“I see it as having a difference and not having a disability,” Leach said. “If other people were made aware, I believe they’d see it that way as well.”
She developed an anti-bullying program that focused on students with special needs She presented it to classes at Grant County Middle School, took it to the Kentucky FCCLA Convention where she won gold and followed that up with gold at the National FCCLA Convention in Nashville this summer.
“It’s amazing for a freshman to do something like that,” said GCHS FCCLA Advisor Whitney Hilterbran.
In prior years, the powder puff game was usually between GCHS students, but since WHS has a new FCCLA chapter this year, Hilterbran said she along with Carla Arnold Smithers, the WHS FCCLA Chapter advisor, were looking for ways to get the students to interact and involved in a greater cause.
Hilterbran said FCCLA’s purpose is to focus on multiple role of family members, wage earners and community leaders.
“It’s about character development and FCCLA is the only organization that is student-led with family as the focus,” Hilterbran said.