DeSoto man promotes Autism awareness in pizza contest

By Chip Washington - bio | email

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC-TV) - A DeSoto County man hopes to win a contest organized by a national pizza chain, and promote Autism awareness in the process.

Olive Branch resident Wayne Bartley first heard about the Papa John's Specialty Pizza Challenge while picking up an order in Hernando.  The contest gave Bartley an idea: Honor his son, Justin, a 14-year-old with Autism.

"We decided to build a puzzle pizza, because the puzzle piece is like the international symbol for Autism," Bartley said.

Thus, 'Justin's Perfect Puzzle Pizza' was born. The pie includes many of Justin's favorite ingredients, including grilled chicken, mushrooms, Italian sausage and bacon bits.

The contest has several phases.  First, Bartley submitted video, which was posted on Facebook, where people could vote on it. The video featuring Justin's pizza received more votes than any other.

Now, the pizza is competing in a semi-final group of ten.

"After that, the owner of the company, along with a celebrity panel, is going to choose the finalists," Bartley said.

Three finalists will be featured on the store menus nationwide through the month of August. The pizza that sells the most will win a share of the profits, and pizza for life.

For Bartley, almost nothing is more important than supporting a treatment for Autism.

"It's easy to fundraise and ask people to make donations for a cause like this, because you get a return on the investment you make," he said.

If you want more information or how you can help Justin's Perfect Pizza to victory, click here.

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