FOSTER, R.I. (WPRI) — This week’s Cardi’s Furniture & Mattresses Hometown Sports Hero is Julia Castelli.

An All-State performer on the basketball court, the Castelli helped Ponaganset to a Division and State Title in her four years on the court. Her love of the game is part of her Senior Passion Project, a two-event fundraiser for the Autism Project in Johnston at the beginning of Autism Awareness Month.

“I mean when you look at it in the bigger picture, these kids deserve so much,” Castelli said. “They work so hard, and nobody realizes what an impact it takes on your life sometimes. And I think that just being able to share that with everyone, coming together today is such a great opportunity for all of us to see the joy.”

Her connection to the cause starts at home. Her younger brother Robby was diagnosed with Autism at five years old.

“Growing up with a brother who has autism is something that definitely impacted my life and I just want to share all the special moments,” Castelli said. “And how special all these kids really are with everyone else. So, I think it’s a great way for everyone to come together and accept and bring awareness to all the other kids.”

Julia is planning to continue her own career in college. She’s talking to a few programs and trying to find the right fit as she hopes to pursue a career in Criminal Justice. Her passion to spread Autism Awareness, another pursuit she plans to carry to the next level.

“The schools she is looking at are more, I think they will enhance the way she plays,” said Chieftain Head Basketball Coach Gary Martinelli. “So, I can see her, she was great here, I can see her being even better at the next level. And then off the court, I see the same. I see a young lady who’s going to get involved in the school community. I see a young lady who’s going to be volunteering. She’ll probably be starting a unified program at her college and having Autism days. I can see that happening. Wherever she goes, they’ll be very lucky.”

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