LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — CBS2 Anchor Rick Garcia first reported on Jim Gott all the way back in 1990, when Gott had just started his career with the Dodgers.
Gott had played for the Pittsburgh Pirates before coming to Los Angeles in 1990.
Garcia first covered Gott’s wacky wedding proposal to the love of his life, Cathy.
“I was on the mound with a tux and a beautiful diamond ring when she opened the gate ,” Gott recalled of the proposal.
Now 26 years later, Garcia reconnected with the Gotts, only to find the duo stronger than ever despite facing some of life’s toughest curveballs.
The couple has raised two children with autism, C.J. and Danny.
“I was devastated at they very beginning. I went through every stage of grief,” Cathy Gott said.
“I would always just think oh there’s going to be a magic pill or somebody would be there to help, and it’s not what it looks like it’s going to be,” Jim said.
Even something as simple as taking the boys to a ballgame to see Dad pitch was incredibly hard.
“The senses are just maximized at Dodger Stadium … the lights are on way too bright, too much unpredictable noise coming out of nowhere,” Jim said.
“What he would do is he would bite himself of throw himself on the concrete of Dodger Stadium just to relieve the pain,” he added.
Now, C.J. is 28 and Danny is 22 — and both face a whole new set of challenges as adults with autism.
Within the next 10 years, 500,000 kids with autism will become adults, and if the statistics stay the same, a staggering 90 percent will be underemployed or unemployed.
The Gotts decided to take action with Danny’s Farm, a nonprofit petting farm at Cal Poly Pomona that gives young adults with special needs the opportunity to work the farm.
“Danny’s farm is a special place where we pair up disabled animals with other kids with special needs, basically so the animals can relate to the humans,” Danny Gott said.
In addition to Danny’s Farm, Cathy also works with Autism Speaks, Education Spectrum, and ETTA, where she helped develop Transitions, a program designed to help young adults with autism and their families move forward into adulthood.
With help, Danny now lives in his own house and holds several jobs including helping out with the Dodgers Diamond Vision.
“Just because we have autism doesn’t mean we’re any different than anyone else. We laugh, we cry, we have feelings, etcetera,” Danny added.
ADDITIONAL INFO ON ORGANIZATIONS MENTIONED
ETTA-OHEL Transition Guidance / Housing / Adult Services