Sharks get ‘chance to give back’

Silent auction of player jerseys raises money for Island Autism Group.


Connor McGrath and Kyra Wildanger walked out to the mound at the Shark Tank Monday, the anticipation building for them to throw out the first pitch. Sporting big smiles and Sharks jerseys, Connor and Kyra both threw strikes down the middle to start the ballgame, receiving loud cheers from the crowd. 

“It is a really awesome gesture from Russ and the team to support Island Autism and support the community,” Kevin McGrath, board chair at the Island Autism Group and Connor’s father, said, referring to Russ Curran, general manager for the Sharks.

The Island Autism Group (IAG) is a nonprofit organization on Martha’s Vineyard that serves and supports children with autism, as well as their families. They work to provide autistic individuals and their families with lifelong independence, confidence, and happiness through therapies, housing, enrichment, and life and job skills training. 

The M.V. Sharks are a collegiate summer baseball team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, with players from all over the country. 

Curran outlined the evening ahead of the game. “The players are going to be wearing Island Autism Awareness jerseys, and there will be 45 bid slips out so people can bid on the jerseys. We are going to take phone bids too. We are going to auction them off, and the proceeds are going to benefit Island Autism.” 

The colorful players’ jerseys — sponsored by Contemporary Landscape — were auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Island Autism Group and their important mission.

“Ironically, there’s like three players on the team who have parents who are involved in autism awareness where they live, all over the country, and the parents have reached out to me about bidding on the jerseys,” Curran said. 

Grace Moore, M.V. Sharks assistant general manager, manned the table with the bid slips for each players’ jersey. “The bidding starts at $100. We are hoping to get a lot of bids,” Moore said. As the game went on, the tables remained busy as people placed their bids. The bidding ended at the end of the eighth inning. “The highest bid was $300,” Moore said.

It was a beautiful evening for a baseball game, and the Sharks were successful gathering donations. Between the shouts of “Let’s go Sharks!” and the ice cream from Mad Martha’s, the players, the people from IAG, and the rest of the crowd enjoyed the evening dedicated to autism awareness. At the end of the game, the players took their jerseys off and handed them to the winners of the auction.

Curran said the inspiration for Monday’s event came from his interaction with a kid in his neighborhood. “I say hi to him every day, and he is in the program,” Curran said of IAG. “I saw the Island Autism van across the street, and I said, Let’s pick Island Autism this year. It is something where I can finally give back.”


  1. Very cool. Thank you to Russ, the Sharks & everyone who came out to support the Island Autism Group.

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