ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke 16-year-old boy with autism was chosen as a brand ambassador for the outdoor clothing line, Huk after his posts on social media about how much he loves the company went viral.
“James is such a cool kid. We’re glad that he finds comfort in our shirts and that he enjoys the ocean colors. We share James’ love of sea life and are thrilled to have him as one of our newest brand ambassadors,” said Al Perkinson, vice president of Huk, which specializes in fishing gear.
James is a passionate teenager who is not defined by autism, but instead his spirit. From an early age, he's felt a deep connection to sea animals. Once you see his Roanoke bedroom full of shelves of sea mammal figurines, you would understand. He can tell you more facts about each creature than most adults can.
In addition to being autistic, James has sensory processing disorder, commonly referred to as SPD. Described as a “neurological traffic jam,” SPD causes James to experience sensory information like touch differently. That’s how his love for Huk clothing developed. He loves the silky texture that much of the clothing is made from. His mom first picked out a blue Huk shirt for James she found on sale at Hamrick’s in Roanoke, knowing he would love the feel. Being his favorite color was a bonus. As it turns out, he more than loved it. He wanted to wear it every day. His mom later purchased multiple shirts in the same style and color. It’s now what he refers to as his uniform.
Like many kids in his generation, James loves YouTube and making social media videos. Huk is one of his favorite topics. His videos have since gone viral, and inspired other kids, and those in the special needs community to try out Huk clothing.
Huk took notice, and thanks to help from his older brother Peter, James was named an official Huk brand ambassador. Huk sent James a special care package filled with a new Huk wardrobe which included a personalized letter from Huk.
“Keep up the hard work in school and keep being you,” James excitedly read aloud. “That was very sweet of them."
Brand ambassador status means having a platform to share what he loves -- and to be loved for who he is.
"It's incredible. Incredible to the world, to show that we all have rights in this world, including people with problems,” James said.
Now he has an entire wardrobe to look and feel his best as he spreads his message to the world.