"Do You Mind If I Call You 'J-Mac'? You Can Call Me George W."
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 15, 2006
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK--One month ago, Jason McElwain, his family, coach, teammates and fellow students could not have imagined the difference four minutes of play would make in his life.
On February 15, Greece Athena High School basketball coach Jim Johnson allowed McElwain, who has autism, to suit up and play in the last quarter of the last game of the regular season, as a way of thanking him for his help managing the team all year.
"J-Mac" thrilled the crowd as he sank six three-pointers and one two-point basket for a total of 20 points -- matching a school record in just those four minutes.
A videotape of the game was soon featured on ESPN, CNN, Paul Harvey, Inside Edition, ABC, and CBS, among others.
Since then, at least 35 offers have poured in from Hollywood on a possible movie deal about the 17-year-old sensation.
Last Thursday, Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds delivered a one-minute speech honoring J-Mac and the Athena Trojans on the floor of the House of Representatives.
And on Monday, the local McDonald's restaurant renamed their burgers "J-Macs" for the night and donated the proceeds to a new scholarship fund in his name, which will be awarded every year to a Greece Athena athlete who inspires others.
But none of that compared to meeting the President of the United States.
"As you can see, a special person has greeted me at the airport," President Bush told reporters Tuesday, as he linked arms with McElwain near Air Force One.
"Jason, do you mind if I call you 'J-Mac'? I call him 'J-Mac'. You can call me George W."
Mr. Bush said he was glad to meet the young man who "found his touch on the basketball court."
"I saw it on TV and I wept, just like a lot of other people did. It's just one of those kinds of stories that touched a lot of people's hearts."
"You probably didn't realize the kind of impact you were gonna have on people across America and around the world," Bush added.
Wednesday morning, when Charlie Gibson of "Good Morning America" asked McElwain which was more exciting -- scoring the 20 points or meeting the President -- J-Mac responded: "It's a tough choice which one is better, but I think meeting the President is better because it's a United States President and he's George W. Bush."
When asked about the affect his story might have on other young people with autism, he said, "I don't think autism affects me all that much. It's just who I am."
McElwain's school district has been working for the past six years to include students with disabilities in the regular classrooms and after school activities.
"J-Mac greets president" (Democrat & Chronicle)
Video: "Hoop Dreams for Autistic Teen" (ABC News Good Morning America)
"Inclusion Is At Center of Basketball Hero's Story" March 8, 2006 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)