An Eagles Fan With Autism Barely Spoke As A Kid. Now He’s The Voice Of A Major Cause.

"Having autism is not a bad thing."

During an interview on The Ellen Show, 20-year-old Ben Hartranft, who has high-functioning autism, shares why he feels raising awareness for autism is so important. 

"Having autism is not a bad thing. It doesn't characterize who we are. We are unique and special, just like a rainbow," Hartranft says. Hartranft was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old, and, at that age, he only knew about 20 words. But with the help of a speech therapist, today, Hartranft can "just talk, and talk — there's no off button on me." 

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Among his jobs, Hartranft is an ambassador for the Philadelphia Eagles Autism Challenge. Earlier this year, the NFL team and Philadelphia residents participated in its inaugural event, "dedicated to raising funds for innovative research and programs to help unlock the mystery of autism. By providing the necessary resources to doctors and scientists at leading institutions, we will be able to assist those currently affected by autism as well as future generations. Our event aims to inspire and engage the community, so together, we can provide much-needed support to make a lasting impact in the field of autism."

One hundred percent of participant-raised funds go directly toward research and programs at institutions like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Jefferson Health, Hartranft writes on his fundraising page

According to the Eagles' website, the inaugural event raised more than $2.5 million. The second challenge is set for May 2019.

While speaking with Ellen DeGeneres, Hartranft is joined by former NFL player Jon Dorenbos, who also happens to be particularly good at magic. 

Through a series of tricks, Dorenbos surprises Hartranft with some amazing experiences, as well as a donation for Hartranft's current round of fundraising for the Philadelphia Eagles Autism Challenge.

Needless to say, Hartranft appears overwhelmed with excitement. 

You can check out Hartranft on 'The Ellen Show' in the full video below:

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