The Autism Alliance of Michigan today announced the Relentless Tour – a first-of-its-kind anti-bullying initiative — will visit Canton on Thursday, February 27, 2014.
Motivational speaker Anthony Ianni, former member of Michigan State University’s 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion and Tournament Championship teams and the 2010 Final Four Team, will speak to students at Achieve Charter Academy, 3250 Denton Road in Canton at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 4, Ianni was the victim of bullying as a child. He went on to graduate from Michigan State University and became the first known individual with autism to play college basketball.
Under legendary MSU coach Tom Izzo, Ianni played with the 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion and Tournament Championship teams, and the 2010 Final Four team. He has won a number of awards including MSU’s Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award, the 2012 MSU Unsung Player Award, and was named a 2013 Detroit Pistons Community Game Changer Finalist.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined Ianni at the state Capitol on Oct. 17 to kick off the Relentless Tour and announce the tour’s mission of reaching 659 schools statewide in one school year with their anti-bullying message.
Through the Relentless Tour, Ianni and the Autism Alliance of Michigan are seeking to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Students with autism are frequently targeted by bullies, with an estimated 65-90% of individuals with autism having been victims of bullying at some point in their lives.
“Bullying is something we must put an end to, not only in Michigan but across the country,” Ianni said. “Everyone is affected by bullying in some way and students with autism are at incredibly high risk to be victimized. Our hope is that through my story and spreading our message we can not only inspire kids to take a stand against bullying but also make bullies rethink their actions.”
In addition to Calley and MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, the Relentless Tour has generated the support of Detroit Red Wing Niklas Kronwall, former Detroit Lion Nate Burleson, and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, all of whom are working to spread the anti-bullying message.
“Jobs and kids are the top two priorities for Gov. (Rick) Snyder and his administration,” Calley said. “The governor and I strongly believe that every student in Michigan schools is entitled to a safe educational environment. We supported comprehensive legislation that requires each Michigan school to have an anti-bullying policy and the governor signed that bill into law in 2011. The law makes it clear that bullying is wrong in all its forms and won’t be tolerated in Michigan schools. No child should feel intimidated or afraid to come to school. I’m pleased that Anthony Ianni and the Autism Alliance of Michigan are launching this statewide effort to help students and parents learn how they can join the fight against bullying.”The Relentless Tour is made possible through the generous support of General RV, which donated the use of an RV for the duration of the tour; Fuel Sponsors Atlas Oil and Citgo; Smart 911; David Brandon Foundation and Emergent Biosolutions. Donations are being generated through relentlesstour.com and crowdrise.com/TheRelentlessTour. as well as through individual school micro fundraisers.