Wednesday, December 29, 2010

operation jack satellite run

i hope you all had a fantastic christmas!:-)

mine was awesome, thanks for asking. i went to my parents house, spent time with my family and T enjoyed his very first christmas. this christmas was a little different though. instead of spending the entire christmas weekend at my parents house, we drove back home christmas night. i had an important run in the morning. it wasn't a race. it wasn't timed. there weren't a lot of people running. it was 18 degrees out with a nasty wind chill. but it was for autism. ill do just about anything for that.

you see, back in april i met sam at the boston marathon. he ran 61 marathons in 2010 to raise awareness and money for an organization called train 4 autism. somehow in the last 8 months i have become chapter president of the maine train 4 autism, signed up for my first marathon and met some pretty sweet people, all because of sam.

on december 26, 2010 sam ran his 61st marathon of the year in california. if there was a way i could have been there, i would have. it just wasn't possible though. i wasn't the only one who wanted to be there to support sam so the idea was born to have satellite runs. it's quite simple. run 6.1 miles, where ever you are in the world anytime on december 26 in honor of sam and his accomplishment.

in the weeks leading up to the run danielle, sam and i had an interview with jake from run like health, and i had an interview with the portland press herald (you can see a copy of that story here). the press herald story ran on christmas eve and my inbox was flooded with people who had never heard about train 4 autism and were moved by the story or knew someone with autism that they wanted to support. i must say, it was pretty cool. even if they didn't come out and run with us, i know that i was able to get the word out to some more people.

ok, to the run. 16 of us met sunday morning. it was c-c-c-c-ooooooold! i ran the run with elizabeth and monica. normally i like running alone. i like being able to go my own speed and not worry about holding others back. these two lovely ladies ran my pace and we had a blast. the miles ticked by and we chatted about all kinds of things from elizabeths quest to run marathons in all 50 states in memory of her dad to monica's list of 5 stupid things to do at 50. we had fun taking pictures of random things along our run, singing ke$ha to the town of south portland and talking autism. cause that's why we were all there right? the entire time i thought of sam, his quest, his accomplishments and what he was about to do later in the day. i thought about my brother and how the money i am raising is going to help him, and every time i hit a hill that i didn't want to run i thought of the mdi marathon and how i want to own those hills.
elizabeth and i with a penguin on someone front yard. welcome to maine.

representing the other portland

danielle, melissa, elizabeth and i were the only ones running that day who have actually met sam. everyone else was just there because they dig what he is doing, they support the cause and want to help. that meant a lot to me. it meant more then christmas presents i got or the birthday presents ill be getting next week (you can still send yours though, its ok). it meant a lot because most of the runners drove 30+ minutes to get there on a very cold day. this wasn't something they had to do, it wasn't something they were doing for someone they know. i am just very grateful to those who came out and ran. so thank you to mark, christine, jim, dawn, elizabeth, misty, jen, sandra, monica, andy, brendan, eric, bj, melissa and of course my right hand women, danielle. there was also a group that ran in auburn and my mom and her friend spent 2 hours walking it!! 
i thought about running with the train 4 autism banner to help keep me warm:-)
danielle and i after the run
sam, this fist pump is for you! thank you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Think Different

I have a lot of different ideas running through my head right now. I hope that I can get them out of my head and convey the jumbled mess I've been thinking about today.

If you don't know, my 13 year old brother has autism. he was adopted by my family when i was in high school and he was 3 years old. he is the one of the best things in my life and has really changed my view on the world. you can read all about him here.

zach is now in the 7th grade and a full blown teenager. think back to when you were in 7th grade. all the emotions that come along with being 13. you probably had friends that you talked to about things. you asked them about girls/boys, you wrote notes and passed them during class, you started being more independent, you had feelings. well, zach has all of these things too. he just doesn't know how to handle it. he has a crush on a girl in his class who enjoys him as a person, but does not like him back.!! seriously!  he was at a week long camp with his class this fall when he found out that this girl did not like him. he was so upset he got angry (which is often how he shows his emotions, through anger. it's scary the older he gets). so angry i had to go pick him up from camp and have him spend the night at my house and i brought him back in the morning (it was closer for me to go pick him up then my parents). on the way home he told me "my heart was broken today". about making me melt. my husband talked to him about how there are lots of fish in the sea..yadda, yadda, yadda. but he doesn't really get it.

zach isn't one of the classic examples of autism. he displays certain traits but then there are other things he can do that we are simply blown away by that technically he "shouldn't be able to do". he is officially diagnosed with autism because that's how we can get him the services he needs. 1:1 ed tech at school, hippo therapy, and summer programming. zach knows he is different. he knows he isn't like the rest of the kids in his class. he truly thinks in a different way. his teachers are pleased with him during class discussions because his brings a different view of whatever they are discussing to the table that the rest of the kids don't think about. he overlooks the obvious answers and digs deeper. he truly is a different thinker.

for my baby shower, my sister asked him to draw me a picture that could be hung in the baby's room. he opened up a tiny notebook that my mom's work sells and drew 4 pictures. each picture was a pea pod and they were put in a frame and i now have 4 peas in a pod hanging up in tyler's room. of course peas in a pod is a very appropriate thing for a babies room. would you have thought to draw that?

he loves to invent things. his classroom has tank with crabs and other assorted things from the bay in it. his teacher was talking one day about having difficulty feeding the crabs. zach took a piece of wire and bent one end of it and attached the food to it (like bait on a fishing hook) and then bent the other end to hang over the side of the tank so that you could leave it there and didn't have to hang on to it. duh. simple and easy. totally zach. 

there are several students at his school who have much more "typical" autism. he knows the word. he knows he has it. but he doesn't get what it means. like i mentioned a lot of zachs emotions are displayed through anger whether it's hurt, rejection, feeling scared, lonely, or tired. apparently he got in some kind of mini argument with another kid at school who has some kind of difficulty and this kid got angry. zach thinks that because the kid was angry, he is autistic. 

this morning i got this email from my mom. the subject was titled "remind you of someone you know?"

This is the text from the original Apple ad.

 "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create.
They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

of course. it's zach! i asked her about it and she said that it was one of apple computer's first ad campaigns in the 90's. she said she googled "think different" and came across this. why on earth was my mom googling the words "think different"? 

then i got this email from her.

I had a great talk with school  this morning. I think we're going to "graduate" Zach from being autistic, which in some respects he never has been. But he is starting to identify with it, so we thought we'd have a ceremony on the last day of school in December, let him rip up his autism "certificate," (we'll make one), and give him a new "diagnosis" of, I don't know, "Different Thinker," or "Outside the Box Thinker," or something along those lines. He is so concrete, he might just buy it. And in fact, it's true. He is wired for accomplishing much greater things than his classmates, but his road will be rockier because of it.
We're trying to give him a new identity to help him have a more positive attitude toward his differences.
Kind of like the Wizard giving the Tin Woodman a heart, or the Scarecrow a brain, we will give him a new "Certificate" that reinforces the good things he's already doing.
I'm actually pretty excited about it. It has certainly made my day better at least. 

so i dont know where i am going with this. but i've been thinking. how can we uses zach's different way of thinking to his benefit? let's not let the fact that he can't read or write well get in his way. that math problems are not the thing he excels at. let's celebrate the fact that he has brilliant ideas that are different then yours and mine. out of the box. original. 

with each new day comes a new surprise with zach. we work hard to get him what he needs. he works twice as hard to try and fit in and be normal. maybe being normal isn't all it's cracked up to be. maybe if he is different, he can make a change in the world that you or i would have never thought to do. 

zach and i at the mdi marathon. oct 2010
i'll leave you with this video that sam sent to me today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Operation Jack Satellite Run

For those of you who have followed along with my blog you know about Sam and Operation Jack. In case you are a new reader Sam is running 61 marathons this year to raise money and awareness for an organization called Train 4 Autism. Sam has named this endeavor Operation Jack in honor of his son Jack who is autistic. 

I first met Sam in Boston this year when he was running the Boston Marathon and Danielle and I were there spectating (I will return every year to watch. We had a blast!). Sam was kind enough to meet up with us after the race for lunch. We chatted for a while and long story short we have now built a Train 4 Autism chapter in Maine. 

On December 26, 2010 Sam is running his 61st marathon of the year in California, the Operation Jack Marathon. Unfortunately I can't make it out there to run. I truly believe in everything Sam is doing and what he represents but logistically it's just not possible. The idea was born to create a satellite run for people who are unable to run the Operation Jack Marathon. The satellite run will be a 6.1 mile run (a play off of 61 marathons) where ever you are on December 26. The idea is to get all 50 states represented and as many countries as possible. Registration is 25.00 or you can create a fundraising page and if you raise 30.00 the registration fee is waived. Participants will receive an Operation Jack finishers medal and race tshirt. 

Here in Maine we have a good size group running in South Portland. If you are in the area and want to join us, just drop me a line and I'd be happy to get you all the info. The competitive side of me wants Maine to have the largest number of participants...let's make it happen! You can register here and become part of this amazing event. 

Tonight Danielle, Sam and I joined Jake's podcast Run Like Health to talk about Operation Jack, the Maine Chapter of Train 4 Autism and the satellite run. Stay tuned for a link to it soon. 
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