An Evening with Mick Foley for Autism Awareness

An Evening with Mick Foley for Autism Awareness

Dalton residents Joe Hershberger and his 11-year-old son Dylan are the organizers of An Evening with Mick Foley for Autism Awareness. It's a special event for them both as Dylan has Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism.


Tickets are available now for Friday, June 29 to spend the evening with World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer, New York Times best selling author and comedian Mick Foley.

All proceeds raised at the Dalton Elementary School event will go to support autism awareness.

Dalton residents Joe Hershberger and his 11-year-old son Dylan are the organizers of the event. It's a special event for them both as Dylan has Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism.

"We wanted to do something to help a local or regional autism group," Joe Hershberger said. "We aren't looking to find a 'cure' but are looking to raise awareness by educating others about autism and to promote acceptance of those on the autism spectrum."

According to the Centers for Disease Control's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about one in 59 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder.

The Hershberger father/son duo are big wrestling fans and enjoy playing the professional wrestling video game WWE 2K18. "Dylan and I loved the characters Mick Foley portrayed in his wrestling career and also in the video game," Joe Hershberger said.

The two creative event organizers decided it would be fun to try and bring in a former wrestler to draw a crowd.

"We googled pro wrestlers with autism connections, and Foley's name came up," Joe Hershberger said. "He is the father of a child on the autism spectrum."

It seemed like a perfect fit for the event they had in mind, and they reached out to Foley through his website.

"With the gracious help of the event sponsor Mark Stepowoy and Roto Rooter, we were able to make our idea a reality," Joe Hershberger said.

The event will consist of an interactive one-hour Q-and-A session with Foley. After the session everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to meet Foley, take a photo with him and have up to two items signed.

Attendees are invited to bring their own items, or photos will be available to purchase at the event.

There also will be raffle items including autographed wrestling photos of such well-known personalities as Hulk Hogan and Rey Mysterio. Roto Rooter has donated a pair of Cleveland Indians tickets for the raffle.

Guests may bring their own nonalcoholic beverage and are encouraged to dine at one of Dalton's restaurants prior to the event.

All the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Northeast Ohio Autism Group and will stay local. "With everyone's help we can make a direct impact in the lives of those with autism in our area and provide them with the best chance possible for success," Joe Hershberger said.

Joe Hershberger explained "autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills."

Joe Hershberger said the disorder knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries and can affect any child. "Autism is a spectrum disorder," he said, "and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees. This is why early diagnosis is so crucial. By learning the signs, a child can begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention programs."

Dylan Hershberger wants to invite everyone to come and hear Foley speak. "Mick did a lot of cool things to entertain wrestling fans, but Mick Foley in real life is the coolest," he said. "Mick is a New York Times best selling author and even portrays an awesome Santa Claus. He has a year-round, Christmas-themed room in his house. I think everyone should come and hear all the stories he has to tell."

Dylan Hershberger also shared a little bit about his own experience with autism. "Kids with autism are unique," he said. "They can do anything anyone else can do. They're always using their imagination."

To make a direct donation to the Northeast Ohio Autism Group, go to

"Contact us directly at to donate by buying tickets to allow a family to attend who may not otherwise be able to come," Joe Hershberger said.

An Evening with Mick Foley for Autism Awareness will begin at 7 p.m. at Dalton Elementary School, 250 N. Church St., Dalton.

Tickets are $50 each. Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Call before trying to purchase at the door as most shows on Foley's current tour have been selling out prior to the date of the event.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call 330-201-0237 or email

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