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Portland business owner becomes face of ice cream brand to help highlight Autism awareness

The ice cream itself is blue, which is also the color that represents Autism awareness.

PORTLAND, Texas — One Portland business owner has plenty to be excited about, recently winning a contest to become the new face of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream.

HEB stocked their freezers with Howdy Homemade Ice Cream Friday, and it's a moment Rig French has been eagerly waiting for.

Rig is the owner of Mister Rigaroo's Shaved Ice in Portland and was one of four contestants in the nation and the only contestant from Texas vying for the prize to see his picture on the side of the carton.

French's family was on hand for the recognition and are proud of what he's accomplished.

"Lots of texts and messages about it and congratulations on winning Howdy Homemade," French said.

The reason French won the contest wasn't just due to the flavor, but the meaning behind the carton. The ice cream itself is blue, which is also the color that represents Autism awareness. 

Tom Landis is the founder of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream that works to create jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Rig struggled to find a job because he has autism," said Rig's dad, Chris French. "We created a shaved ice business about 6 years ago, about the time Howdy Homemade started, did that locally, been pretty successful."

The pints are already flying off the shelves at the H-E-B in Portland and on Saratoga. Landis adds that love and understanding can go a long way in the lives of others. 

"We think there's an untapped ability for so many," Landis said. "You look at Rig so many employees that are the faces of the pints, truly perhaps one of the solutions to one of the biggest problems now, which is the now hiring banners we see everywhere. I think if people give a little more love and a little more grace, you can get life long employees."

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