Last Saturday I had the honor of attending the Boston Autism Speaks Walk Awards Dinner. It was an evening filled with inspiration and hope. While there I spent some time talking with Erica Guinta, head of the Massachusetts chapter of Autism Speaks. She was excited to tell me that Autism Speaks and the 13.1 Marathon Series had teamed up to make Autism Speaks the official charity of 13.1 Boston. For the September 16th event, Autism Speaks has pledged to field 400 half-marathoners. Each of those runners will commit to raising at least $500, meaning that we will raise at least $200,000 for research, advocacy and awareness programs.
This is where you come in.
I am NOT asking you to donate.
I am NOT asking you for money.
I want YOU!
I want you to come cover 13.1 miles with me, where we will start at historical Suffolk Down race track and “dash through East Boston, Revere, and Winthrop, take in a stunning view of Downtown, and smell the salt air of the great Atlantic Ocean! The Boston 13.1 Marathon is (also) WALKER FRIENDLY. The course will remain open for 3 hours and 30 minutes (16 minute/mile pace).”
We are all touched by autism – whether it is ourselves, a family member, a neighbor or friend. If you haven’t been touched by autism, chances are you will – and soon.
I was inspired in listening to Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr Saturday night speak of a generation of children who are growing up with the understanding that kids like my little Brooke are “just one of the guys,”; of high school basketball and football players who were coming up to him simply to ask, “what can we do for so-and-so”; of college kids who were packing auditoriums to hear him speak on a Thursday night (I don’t know about your experience, but my Thursday nights in college were generally spent in the fraternity basement).
There is a generation of kids who are growing up with awareness, knowledge, compassion.
“Just one of the guys.”
It made me realize that there were in fact, many girls at Brooke’s school that really do just look at her as one of the girls. Yes, they know she’s different, but they just don’t care. They like her and she likes them. In fact, this morning at drop off, a girl that was in her class LAST year came up to her to give her a pink teddy bear for Valentine’s Day. Brooke hasn’t had a play day with this girl since last summer, yet this young lady thinks enough of Brooke that she felt compelled to give her a Valentine’s Day present.
This kind of awareness, this kind of comfort would, in part, not be possible were it not for the awareness efforts of organizations like Autism Speaks. In turn, organizations like Autism Speaks would not be successful were it not for the incredible efforts of you. Yes, YOU.
Whether you are an experienced marathoner, an avid walker or just a getting off of the couch, I would like to invite you to join the Team Up! with Autism Speaks Team. They make fund raising easy.
2012 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Race Entry (which means you don’t need to worry about the $65 – $100 entry fee)
- Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve, and an Autism Speaks dri-fit hat
- Pre-Race private team dinner for you and a guest, location TBA
- Customized fundraising page
- Team Up! Facebook Page
- Virtual Coaching by a certified running Coach Chris Fales
- Fundraising Tips and Opportunities
- Dedicated Autism Speaks staff
- Race Day Cheering Section at Mile TBA
- Race Day Team Up! Tent for pre and post race usage
- Team Handbook- In a PDF form and downloadable for reference at anytime.
I will add one more “benefit” if you are a Boston local. If you will be running your first half-marathon at 13.1 Boston, or just need some inspiration to get out there, I will organize weekly weekend long runs in the weeks leading up to the event. 7 months is a long ways away; plenty of time to get yourself ready for what is sure to be a fun-filled, inspiring day.
If you are an out-of-towner, what better excuse to get yourself up here for a visit? You’ll get to see New England in the early Fall, you’ll get a great run in, you’ll raise funds for a worthy cause, and best of all, you’ll get to have dinner with me the night before the race…okay, well, maybe that last one is not such a great excuse. Regardless, whether you decide to dine with me or not, I want you here.
You love to or want to run/walk.
You want to help.
On September 16th you can do both.
Experienced runner, novice runner, walker or couch potato – I. Want. You!
What do you do on a steamy July 4th morning? If you live in our nation’s capital or were lucky enough to be visiting the area, the only place to be was this year’s 11th Annual Autism Speaks 5K held in Potomac, MD. More than 2,100 registrants participated in the 5K run, 1 mile walk and the Run Anywhere setting an all time record. The event will raise over $260,000, another record, with donations still coming in. The race always attracts an elite group of racers, which makes for an exciting finish and this year didn’t disappoint. Leading the men’s group was George Galasso, 20, from Holmdel, NJ and a runner for Princeton University with a time of 15:35. He just outkicked Seife Geletu beating him by 1 second. Our female winner put a bit more pavement between she and her next competitor. Katie Harman, 20, from Clarksville, MD captured the overall female title with a time of 18:30.
Runners came from nearby and as far away as Los Angeles and even Hanoi. Besides age group awards for running performances, prizes were awarded to the Top Child Fundraiser, 7 yo Chloe Miller ($3,800), Top School Team – Carderock Kids ($2,400), Top MCSL Swim Team-Eldwick Sharks ($3,700), Top Fundraising Team – Richie’s Racers ($40,000), Top Fundraising Team/capita 4 people ($25,000), Team With Farthest Traveling Member (Hanoi). Remember, join us next year for the 12th annual Autism Speaks 5K on July 4th.
Maryland Men’s Basketball Coach Gary Williams served as Grand Marshal and addressed the participants before the race. “Autism affects so many families. I have taken it as a personal mission of mine for the past several years, ever since the son of one of my former players was diagnosed. With the prevalence of the disorder now at 1 in 110–and even more commonly in boys–this disorder has to become everybody’s cause.”
The Voice of the Redskins, Nationals, and Terrapins, Johnny Holliday, thanked the students and families for coming out to share the beautiful spring day. . . as a cold rain drenched the participants. Despite the weather, the event had record attendance and reached a new fundraising high of $23,500. Much of the credit goes to event chair Jordan Adler and his brothers at Sigma Phi Epsilon, along with Sigma Kappa, Alpha Phi, and sponsors Dignity Memorial, Bagel Place, Atlanta Bread, and Maryland National Capital Parks & Planning Commission.
We’re excited to host this Autism Speaks U 5k at the University of Maryland again next year!
On May 15, the Kansas City Wizards hosted their first 5K to benefit Autism Speaks. Among the many runners were a class of students , who have autism, from Gardner Edgerton High School (GEHS) in Gardner, Kan., who trained for a month and a half. The students, featured in this video, wore the number “304,” which is their classroom number. Following the race, the same lucky students did the coin toss and presented medals to the race winners at the Wizards’ autism awareness game.
Thank you to all the runners, volunteers, Ponch from Mix 93.3, Jimmy Conrad with the KC Wizards, Missouri Rep. Jason Grill and especially the Kansas City Wizards organization for hosting this event to support the Kansas City autism community.