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Packers player part of program to provide iPads to children with autism

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GREEN BAY (WITI) -- Football players get wide-eyed when they see the end zone in front of them, but a former Green Bay Packers player had his eyes opened like never before, when he helped youngsters facing a special challenge.

Packers Hall of Famer William Henderson was a dependable, hard-hitting fullback for 12 years. He hit the books hard in college. He is a local business owner, a broadcaster and somebody who can always be counted on to tackle a good cause in our state.

Henderson is lending a helping hand to a Kiwanis organization that covers all of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. As the head of 5,000 members, Lynn Messer was charged with coming up with the Governor's Project for the year. His choice was easy, because it's personal.

Kiwanis District Governor Lynn and First Lady Merita Messer are passionate about helping children on the Autism Spectrum learn and communicate. Their granddaughter, Kelsey, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, so the Messers have firsthand experience with the unique challenges for children on the spectrum.

Thanks to a breakthrough in modern technology, youngsters with autism will be able to communicate as never before, using software Apps available for the Apple iPad.

Messer was hoping to bring a sports celebrity on board to help raise awareness and money for the iPads, which cost about $500 each. As he was on the gridiron, Henderson was a perfect fit.

The Kiwanis Club's goal is to raise $1.5 million to provide as many iPads as possible to autistic children. Henderson plans to pave the way. That makes him an MVP in the minds of parents with autistic children.

Henderson, the tough-as-nails former NFL standout was bowled over by the experience of watching the autistic children with the iPads -- including a young man named David who is blind, but that challenge didn't stop him from developing a clear understanding of how to use his special iPad right away.

Ashley and Dean Rondorf's 10-year-old twin boys both have educational autism. Their hearts skipped a beat when they watched them work with their new iPads.

Best of all, the kids who use them get joy and satisfaction that comes from entering a whole new world of learning!

CLICK HERE for more information on the Kiwanis Autism Project.