‘Ben’s Fund’ event exceeds expectations

Posted May 9, 2014

Traci and John Schneider were hoping to raise $300,000 for autism assistance and awareness, but last week’s Prime Time Celebrity Waiter event to benefit “Ben’s Fund” generated above and beyond even that lofty goal.

Traci Schneider set a goal for the amount of money she hoped to raise at last week’s Prime Time Celebrity Waiter event to benefit “Ben’s Fund.” But she also was hoping that get-to figure wasn’t out of reach.

“I was hoping we were going to raise more than $300,000, but oh my gosh,” said Schneider, the wife of Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

Oh my gosh, indeed. Her concern proved to be unwarranted, as the event at El Gaucho in Bellevue last Thursday night generated $382,000 – and counting; pushing the three-year total raised at the event to more than $900,000.

“It’s incredible. It’s absolutely incredible,” Schneider said. “It just totally blew away our expectations for this year. It’s just so cool.”

The money will be used to help families who have autistic children, and getting the Super Bowl champion Seahawks involved will help raise awareness as well. Both are important to Traci and John Schneider because their 12-year-old son, Ben, was diagnosed as being autistic at the age of 3.

“It’s just incredible, the number of families we can help with that,” Traci Schneider said.

As for the Seahawks’ involvement increasing the awareness, Schneider shared a story from the night of the event.

“Someone came up to me that night and told me a heartfelt story about how she had a personal relation with someone who had an autistic child, but they didn’t know what was going on for a while,” Schneider said. “They were really looking at this child and thinking, ‘Gosh, he has such horrible behavior. The mother is not being a very good disciplinarian.’

“Then he was diagnosed with autism, and it just really turned her on and really changed her point of view. So just hearing stories like that, and so many people at the event and outside the event have shared those touching stories, I can’t tell you what that means.”

The first event in 2012 raised $250,000. Last year, it was $270,000. Next year, the goal will be to top this year’s impressive sum of $382,000.

“I’m not quite sure how we’re going to do that,” Schneider said with a laugh. “But it’s not only the money, it’s the awareness. It’s just huge. And that’s what we hoped for. To be able to have that happen, it’s just exactly what we wished for.”