This is a guest post by Autism Speaks’ staffer Shawnie Keenan.
The Autism Speaks 5K is only just days away! This year is extra special in that we celebrate our 10th anniversary and are running in memory of the race’s first announcer, Chip Shooshan. On Sunday, July 4, runners and walkers will come together and run/walk through the Potomac neighborhood looking to kick off their Independence Day weekend festivities with a real bang! This year, we are introducing an entirely new way to run this event called “Run Anywhere.” The concept was first introduced by Steve Kirstein who found out that there were a lot of people who were interested in participating but were, unfortunately, out of town! So, what better way to get more people involved than by allowing them to essentially run this great event anywhere around the world and still receive the very stylish blue race tee shirt. Without further adieu: if you are interested in running a 5k on July 4th and cannot join us in Potomac, please visit www.autismspeaks5k.org and click “Run Anywhere” to register! Registration closes at 9 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 1, so register now.
Where will you be running this year?
James was diagnosed at 23 months with autism. We started noticing around 15 months that Emmett’s development was making leaps and bounds; James’ was not and he was losing words. My little boy lost his smiles, his babble and became disconnected from us. Possibly the most painful thing a parent can ever experience.
As the years went by, I needed an outlet to deal with the stress and I had been a runner throughout college. I also had a little boy, who because of his disability, could never stand still and ran everywhere. We were constantly sprinting across playgrounds, parking lots, and streets, because James was always running.
I decided I needed to stay in shape so I could always run with James. And I started running. Four marathons and several half marathons later, I’m still running. I’m not running fast, I just can run. And I can run with James and for James. I can do the ultimate multi-tasking for any mother – raise awareness, raise funds for autism research and help my child.
In the photo above, Emmett is the little boy to my right.
My husband is next to him and my good friend Karen is in front.
Space is quickly filling up, so if you would like to run with a group passionate about raising awareness then we want you to Team Up with Autism Speaks for the ING NYC Marathon 2010 please visit http://events.autismspeaks.org/nycmarathon for complete details.
This “In Their Own Words” essay is by Nancy O’Brien of Elmhurst, Ill.
If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.