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White Sox Benetti lends voice to animated series

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Jason Benetti is animated.

Anyone who has listened to Benetti's outstanding description of White Sox baseball knows this fact to be true for the team's television play-by-play voice. But in this specific instance, in relation to the "Awkward Moments" campaign he has lent himself to for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, we are talking literally animated.

CHICAGO -- Jason Benetti is animated.

Anyone who has listened to Benetti's outstanding description of White Sox baseball knows this fact to be true for the team's television play-by-play voice. But in this specific instance, in relation to the "Awkward Moments" campaign he has lent himself to for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, we are talking literally animated.

"It's weird being animated," Benetti said. "I was watching it and thought, 'This is fun and interesting.' And they nailed the eyes and the walk."

Benetti, 34, has cerebral palsy. The condition certainly doesn't define the highly accomplished broadcaster, but as can be seen in the first two "Awkward Moments" episodes, he certainly doesn't avoid anything related to CP.

As part of the first segment, titled the "Disability Blurt Out," Benetti explains a normal life situation of being in line ordering popcorn at a movie only to have a 5-year-old innocently ask his mom, "What's wrong with that man?" Benetti admits this real life experience is OK and cool for a kid to try to figure out because Benetti walks a bit different, and as he states in the segment, he's a guy "whose eyes go in totally different directions."

In fact, Benetti loves the disability blurt out.

"If kids don't ask, they don't get a good answer," Benetti says in the "Awkward Moments" segment. "If they do ask, they can find out CP is damage to the brain and not damage to the spirit or to the soul. I have CP. It's part of who I am. I like who I am."

Richard Ellenson, the CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, came up with the idea of Benetti "doing play-by-play about disabilities" over breakfast with the announcer. Ellenson joked that his past life as an advertising man leaves him thinking in 30-second increments, with the first inclination to cut, while Benetti's job has him filling much of the time.

Together they created something special, with the second installment of the series entitled the "Disability Lookaway."

"It took us about a year to get the whole tonality right and come up with disability talk down and blurt out and lookaway," said Ellenson, whose son, Thomas, has CP. "That's where it came from. And [Benetti is] willing to talk about things other people aren't willing to talk about."

Benetti isn't one to regularly put himself behind everything, but he couldn't say no to a campaign he considers fun. It takes a portion of life that can be bizarre, or create anger fast, and diffuses it completely when seen properly.

The beauty of this Cerebral Palsy Foundation campaign is it really becomes a universal message.

"Stop believing the first thing you see about anybody," Benetti said. "But it's hard, because if you look at a green sign on the road and it's not an exit sign or street sign, then you freak out. We need buckets to put people in, but we also need to train our minds to not think it's the only thing.

"It's part of me, and that's part of the campaign, too. Don't assume that the first thing you see is the only thing you are going to see."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox