Bengals fans kickoff the season at Fountain Square

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The first week of Monday night football kicks off tonight and fans can enjoy the game at Fountain Square.

Bengals all-time passing leader, Ken Anderson, is hosting the Bengals Kickoff 2012 event at Fountain Square to celebrate the Bengals opening their season in Baltimore on ESPN and to raise money for Impact Autism.

"A lot of times it's just the parents coming and speaking out but when we have famous people that come out and say 'These kids are awesome kids they just need a little help,' it's huge for our families," mom Judi Nekolny said.

Fellow former Bengals players came out to help Anderson raise money for the cause.

"That's one of the things we're able to do as former athletes and even athletes; you can use that leverage in a positive way or a negative way," former Bengal Anthony Munoz said. "All you've got to do is look at some of the former players here; a lot of them have leveraged that for the good of this community."

"I think the world of those guys," Ken Anderson said. "They were great football players but they're even better people and I appreciate it very much."

Anderson spearheaded the fundraiser with his 21-year-old autistic nephew in mind.

"The facility that he's in, he can't stay there any longer so we're trying to fill a need where we think there's a big one for that segment of the population," Anderson explained.

The money raised will help build a residential living facility that offers lifestyle and employment assistance.

"We're just trying to build a meaningful work life community for adults with autism," Anderson said.

Organizers say it is a cause impacting more of our neighbors than ever before.

"Ten years ago one in 10,000 were diagnosed [with autism]. Today it's one in 99," Impact Autism spokesman Paul Kitzmiller said. "So as these kids are growing through the system we're going to have to provide for them."

The kickoff on the square began at 4:45 p.m. and included appearances by Anderson and several former teammates, food vendors, mascots, live music and the Ben-gal cheerleaders.

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