Young Wrestling Buddies Raise Awareness for Autism Beyond The Mat


UPDATED: Monday March 10, 2014 12:35 AM

Brandon Cannon and Caiden Hooks are kids who can't get enough of wrestling.  

Their passion goes farther than the newest moves they learn on the mats.

It's more about how they are helping others on a mission through their unique bond.

"Caiden's got a lot of heart, he's got a good background in wrestling and learning the moves, so it's really just fine tuning and helping him work with what his situation is," said Jacob Cannon, Caiden's coach.

Caiden's name means "fighter" and there's no question he lives up to that standard everyday.

"Who I really am is Caiden Hooks, the individual first, who happens to have Asperger's and visual impairment," explained Caiden.

Caiden has autism and ADHD.  He also lost both his eyes to cancer. However, he takes his challenges in stride.

"Being blind is not naturally that bad, I can still get around," said Caiden.  "Now that I think about it, it should be an experience to build faith."

It's an attitude he shares with his wrestling buddy, Brandon, who he just met this winter.  They practice together every chance they get.

"He's not only a good wrestler, but a good person, and it doesn't matter if you're blind or not, you're still a person and we're all equal," said Brandon.

And Brandon is the first person to help Caiden achieve his goal to wrestle.

"I was inspired that if he can do that, than anybody can do anything," said Brandon.

Both now share a common vision through a Facebook page called "Wrestling Buddies for Autism Awareness."

They are raising funds for a special tournament next month.

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