Powerlifter raises money through competition to support people affected by autism

Published: January 11, 2023          By: Lisa Walenceus

Header photo (left to right): Kim Rosebaum, Kris Grant, Caitlin Wilson holding daughter Emery, Sebastian holding son Payton, and Brian Hall, Autism Delaware's executive director

Sebastian Wilson was inspired to raise money through his powerlifting by two things: seeing the good his weightlifting coach does using competition to raise money for nonprofits and seeing how some people react to his four-year-old son who’s on the spectrum.

“I see how people react to Payton sometimes and I know they just don’t understand,” Wilson explained. “I wish they would ask questions, but they don’t. I feel like they’re judging him. I want them to understand him and all people on the spectrum better.

“My coach, Travis, AKA 'Papa Bear Rogers,' runs a charity, 'Papa Bear Strong,' out of Salisbury, Maryland,” he continued. “He suggested that I use my competitions to raise money and also raise awareness about autism. He really inspired me to do this.”

Wilson asked people to make contributions based on the number of pounds he lifted at the United States Powerlifting Association competition in Salisbury, MD, on December 17, 2022. 

In a powerlifting competition, athletes perform three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. They have three attempts to reach their maximum weight in each type of lift and their score is the total of the maximum weight they lifted in each type. At this competition, Wilson’s score was 1609.

“My idea was that people would give a few cents per pound that I lifted, but I was surprised at how many people just wanted to give donations directly, before I did the competition,” Wilson said. “A lot of people contributed – I’m especially grateful to the members of Anytime Fitness in Newark, where I work, and Diamond State Iron, where I also train. Their support and interest really touched me.”

Wilson is looking forward to the next competition and another chance to raise autism awareness. “My wife, Caitlin, and I are so proud of how well Payton is doing and we want to do what we can to ensure his success and the success of other kids on the spectrum.”


Wilson does squats for two reps with 550 pounds.


A deadlift with 660 pounds for a single rep.


Follow Sebastian Wilson on Instagram.

Interested in creating an event to support Autism Delaware? Email development@autismdelaware.org to learn how we can help you organize it.