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Late July Arizona residents Angie Swartout and her son Ty, a fifteen year old boy with autism, went to Tempe Beach Park to play Pokemon Go. They were approached by two college aged men who started to make fun of Ty and to bully him. The two men squirted bbq sauce on Ty’s shirt while insulting him, as the mother states “Yes, we got the r-word.”
The teen’s sister Hope, upset by the incident posted the details of the attack on the Arizona Pokemon Go Community Facebook page. She pleaded to the Pokemon Go community: “If you see something like this happen, please don’t stand idly by.” She also wrote: “My brother is the sweetest, goofiest, most caring person I have ever known. He LOVES Pokemon Go.”
The post went viral and hundreds of people offered their support to Ty and his family. The members of the Pokemon Facebook page decided to organize an outing for Ty and invited him to play Pokemon Go with them at the same park the following weekend.
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Angie was deeply moved by the response. “I’m so grateful. I’m just so grateful because if this wouldn’t have happened, we would still be hiding in our house like a lot of families like ours do. And I just can’t thank everyone enough.”
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Dozens of people showed up at Tempe Beach Park with many even bringing gifts for Ty. All the kindness and support from the residents of Tempe who were in fact until recently, absolute strangers, motivated and inspired Angie to raise autism awareness to communities.