Dowds Crowd charity auction benefits Washington-area autism community

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Nic Dowd isn’t used to being home in Minneapolis in December, but the Washington Capitals forward appreciates being able to spend more quality time with his wife Paige and their 11-month-old son Louie, awaiting the 2020-21 NHL season, to which an official start date has not yet been announced.

Realizing so much is different because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Dowds are trying to help others enjoy the season with the Dowd’s Crowd holiday fundraiser to benefit families of DC Public Schools students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proceeds from the fundraiser, which opened Wednesday and concludes Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. ET, will be used to purchase gift cards and spread holiday cheer to the families of students with ASD.

“Just with COVID and everything, a lot of this stuff is being lost on a lot of these kids because, to be honest, the parents and our organization too, the Capitals, we’re dealing with a lot of different issues,” Dowd said. “So it was important for us to support the autism community however we can and I think we wanted to be able to spread some holiday cheer for some kids who were diagnosed with autism in the DC community.”

Paige Dowd’s education in speech pathology inspired the Dowds to found Dowd’s Crowd in 2018 to give children with sensory issues the opportunity to watch NHL games. Over the past two seasons, Dowd’s Crowd has hosted children with ASD and their families at Capitals games and provided the children with sensory kits, which include noise canceling headphones, sunglasses, a foam puck and a conversation card, to help them enjoy the game without triggers.

“We wanted to provide as much support for the autistic community as we possible could, specifically children,” Nic Dowd said. “It’s really the tip of the iceberg. Paige really spearheaded that with Dowd’s Crowd the last couple years and that turned out to do really, really well. We had a lot of good fan engagement with that and the families that we worked with.”

Opportunities for fan engagement have been limited by the coronavirus this year, but the Dowd’s Crowd holiday fundraiser is providing a few for auction, including a 15-minute holiday-themed Zoom call with Nic Dowd and Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway for up to five children accompanied by five adults.

Other auction items include a jersey signed by Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, a stick signed by Dowd and photos signed by Oshie, Hathaway and Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom. Fans can also purchase an autographed Dowd photo for $100.

A virtual meet and greet for up to eight guests with Nic and Paige Dowd is available for $1,000 and an experience that includes two lower-bowl tickets to a future Capitals home game and postgame meet and greet with Dowd for $1,500. Individual donations, beginning at $10, can also be made.

“We’re really excited about it,” Dowd said. “I think we’re going to have a really good turnout for this and hopefully raise some good funds so we can buy some great gift cards and supply some toys and stuff for kids.”

For more information, visit https://events.handbid.com/auctions/dowds-crowd-holiday-fundraiser/items.

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