Back on April 8th Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd and his wife Paige, in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month, announced a logo design contest for their Dowd’s Crowd program. Fans were encouraged to download a blank puzzle piece outline at WashCaps.com and complete its design.
The design submitted by 17-year-old Centreville, Virginia resident Ryleigh O’Connor is now the new logo of Dowd’s Crowd, which provides opportunity for autistic children to be able to attend Capitals games. O’Connor’s design was selected by the Dowds out of almost 100 submissions.
“It was really challenging for Paige and I to select our winning puzzle piece. We had so many great submissions,” Nic told Northern Virginia Magazine. “We selected this specific one, by Ryleigh, because we felt it did an excellent job representing Dowd’s Crowd’s overall goal by tying in a mantra that is so well known in the autism community.”
When the Capitals announced the winner on May 21 the 11th grader had no idea she was going to win. “My youngest sister barged into my room and yelled, ‘Ryleigh you won!’,” O’Connor explains. “My mom had found out by seeing it on the Capitals’ Facebook page. We’re a big family of seven so it was plenty loud in our house as we celebrated.”
O’Connor said “I’m looking forward to expressing my thanks not only for what [Nic Dowd] does as a Capitals player but also for what he and his wife do for the community through programs like Dowd’s Crowd.”
In O’Connor’s design, there are multiple inspirations from different aspects seen in the autism community. This includes the blue, red and yellow colors seen throughout, the common phrase “Different Not Less” and the puzzle piece pattern that represents autism awareness.
Ryleigh’s logo will be used on drawstring bags that are used for Dowd’s Crowd sensory kits. She also receives four tickets to a future Capitals home game, a post-game meet and greet with the Dowds and 10 drawstring bags.
The Dowds created Dowd’s Crowd in 2018 to provide the opportunity for children with autism to be able to attend and enjoy a Capitals game. Tickets and a Dowd’s Crowd sensory kit are provided to recipients through Autism Speaks. The sensory kits included noise cancelling headphones, sunglasses, a foam puck and a conversation card to help the child be able to fully enjoy the game without any triggers. The Dowds meet with the ticket recipients postgame.
Spend a day with the Dowd’s (before Louie arrived!) as the two talk about their work in the community including Dowd’s Crowd, which provides opportunities for kids with autism to enjoy a game.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 7, 2020