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Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Fairfield's Joe King Wins 2022 Grace Hill Impact Hero Award!

October 4, 2022

There is no one definition of what makes a hero. We know heroes face their fears, overcome challenges, and think of others before themselves. They handle adversity with grace and optimism. They inspire us to be our better selves. So what does it mean to be a local hero? Just ask Joe King, a Superintendent of Construction Management here at Fairfield and the 2022 Winner of the Grace Hill Impact Award.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Joe’s journey has been long and challenging, but not without its rewards. What many might find to be a difficult obstacle, Joe turned into an adventure and a gift for others. When he and his wife learned that their son, Hayden, had a high functioning form of autism, they were not only devasted, but at a loss for what to do. That's when his charity, Golf Fore Austisma 501(c)3 non-profit charity based in Ohio, was born.

“I created the nonprofit mostly based on frustration by the lack of awareness and understanding shown by the public. Also, I realized that opportunities existed for my son, but I was never made aware of them, not even by the educators.” – Joe King

Golf Fore Autism was established in November 2014 with a specific focus on helping fund education for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within Northeast Ohio. The idea behind the charity is simple: Joe uses sports — something familiar and fun — to bring advocacy, awareness, and resources to an important issue. Doing this creates greater awareness of autism and helps provide educational resources for families and individuals coping with the condition. Golf Fore Autism reaches out to specific organizations once a year to create scholarships for financially disadvantaged families in order to provide much needed education about ASD.

So Wait, What Exactly is Autism?

Part of the challenge autism brings is that there is not one, but many types. To paraphrase well-known autism advocate and specialist Dr. Stephen Shore, if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Clinically, autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the United States today.

Hayden didn’t have what most people perceive when someone mentions austism. In fact, Hayden has “high functioning autism.” Hayden's mother shared on the Golf Fore Autism website:

 “His speech improves every day. He’s affectionate. He’s brilliant in that he knows all his letters, numbers, and colors. He loves school. He loves hugs. He loves kisses.”

Building Golf Fore Autism's Core Mission

After Hayden was diagnosed, no one had knowledge of what to do or how to help. No one shared scholarship info or therapies. This was crucial because the developmental cycle between 2 and 6 years of age is when key therapies really help build motor skills. Hayden was late because of a lack of resources. With years of industrial and construction management experience under his belt, Joe is no stranger to leadership and building scopes of work. Using those skills he created a fellowship that provided awareness and acceptance, as well as better opportunities and knowledge. The fellowship is a support network full of friends – like Joe’s buddy who owns the golf course – and large sponsors like the Cleveland Browns. The core mission states:

  • Knowledge is the most important tool for helping those with Autism
  • Awareness will lead to knowledge
  • Public events bring awareness by way of a memorable event


And it works! Golf Fore Autism's annual event during Autism Awareness Month in April sells out every year. With this success, the services Golf Fore Autism provides are many and far-reaching. Here’s a glimpse into the ways Joe’s nonprofit supports children with ASD, their families, and the community at large:

  • Offer scholarships to provide therapies not offered in the school setting
  • Provide sensory bags to schools to help develop a sense of touch and motor skills
  • Connect educators to training on how to work with children with ASD
  • Spread awareness about resources available for children with ASD
  • Gather financial donations for local schools to expand available resources
  • Educate local fire stations and police departments on how to best respond when a person with ASD is at a scene

And best of all, there are the thank you cards and hugs when Joe delivers checks or visits classrooms.

Grace Hill Impact Hero Awards Opportunity To Recognize Local Heroes

Grace Hillthe company behind the technology and products we know internally as The HUB and The SOURCE, has been a long-term partner to Fairfield that shares our core values and emphasizes the importance of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) like we do. The Impact Hero Awards give us an opportunity to recognize a Fairfield associate who shows a significant commitment to giving back and honor them with a donation to the charity of their choice.

Earlier this fall, associates could nominate a colleague who might consistently volunteer at the local food bank, homeless shelter, or animal shelter. Or maybe, like Joe, one who started a nonprofit on their own time. There are so many heroes among us, and Grace Hill helps us reward and encourage their altruism!

  • Grand Prize: $3,500 donation to the charity of choice 
  • First Runner Up: $2,000 donation to the charity of choice
  • Second Runner Up: $1,000 donation to the charity of choice

Winning Grace Hill's Impact Hero Award

Joe originally received a phone call letting him know he received the nomination and, in fact, was blown away by how many nominations he received. But when he saw the email letting him know he was a finalist, he thought it was spam. Wisely, he read on to learn that he was one of three finalists – out of 90 total nominations. On October 19, after being flown to Boulder, CO, for the award ceremony, it was announced that Joe won the grand prize of $3,500 to the charity of his choice, which, of course, was Golf Fore Autism. As Joe would say, really the kids won!

Creating Better Living by Supporting Our Communities

We are proud to work with partners like Grace Hill whose values align with ours. And we're exceptionally proud to have associates like Joe who embody this spirit in their work at Fairfield and their personal time. As Joe says so passionately:

“Time is always challenging. When organizing events, I have some late nights, but it is worth it. Think of [it] as part of an offering plate. I don’t believe my son was given to me by accident. I needed him; I found my purpose through him. We all have a purpose.”  

Congratulations, Joe!


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