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Racers Stories

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From our Race Participants!

"Ryan's Runners came together 8 years ago when Ryan's younger sister Carly was struggling with how to introduce her friends to her brother Ryan and educate her peers about autism.  Carly ran that first year with 2 classmates by her side.  They went back to their 3rd grade classroom and stood next to Carly (all wearing their medals) and explained to the class about acceptance, tolerance and patience.  Every year since then Carly Simpson, Augie Alexander and Cameron Reeder have participated in the 5K and continue to be advocates for individuals with special needs.  The team of Ryan's Runners has grown and reached beyond the state and country with sponsors and supporters from Canada and South America."

Sue and Carly
Team Ryan’s Runners

"We race because our son, Jack, was diagnosed with autism in September of 2015 when he was 3 years old. The services he has received have helped our entire family tremendously. We have learned how to parent a little differently because our son is wired a little differently. When we first started having concerns of autism we experienced shock, disbelief and fear of the unknown future. I didn’t want him to have autism and I didn’t know how the world would perceive him and our family. The overwhelming support and understanding we have received from friends and family have made this journey not only less scary, but a positive experience. I know that our son has helped shed light on a disability that some people know nothing about and have never experienced first hand. This year we wanted to create a team to not only help raise money for families with autism in San Diego but to create a community of people who will always love and support Jack. Every family needing autism support should receive it and I hope we can help contribute to that."
Phil, Kirsten, Jack, Hank & Wendy
Team Jack Mason

"Each year the race symbolizes a new beginning where hopes and dreams are put into action. We do not have to wait on the sidelines hoping for others to come up with a plan. Through our active participation we are all a part of making a valuable difference. With each year we see the race grow; individuals who were once young children, we now see as young adults. We embrace the families, and community members with appreciation knowing that that we all have created a growing community where we are truly connected. It is the most inspiring example of what unity of spirit represents."
Team Captain America


"The NFAR Race for Autism offers us a way to support Autism in our community while providing our family and friends the opportunity to be part of something that helps support children like our son, Nicholas. We understand there is a huge need for more Autism-specific programs in our local schools and are encouraged that the money raised will go directly to fund grants for schools in San Diego County. Looking at the future, we want to help support NFAR's Technical Training Programs so that Nicholas and other children impacted by Autism can have a more fulfilled life. Above all, race day fills us up with hope and encouragement because of the support of our family and friends."
Team Nicholas B

When we first realized Max has autism, it was an extremely overwhelming and intimidating.  We worried about his future and what he would be able to do?  Would he have friends?  Would he be able to go to a “regular” school?  Would he be happy and satisfied and fulfilled in his life?
Then we saw a flyer for the 2010 NFAR Race for Autism and decided to join in as a way to connect with other families who may be going through the same adjustment. We casually mentioned it to a few friends and family members and were so touched when they enthusiastically asked if they could join us.  That first year, we had 13 members on our newly appointed “Team My Max” and were so excited to become part of the amazingly supportive atmosphere on that race day.  In fact, each year our team has steadily grown, as more and more of our own family and friends have joined us on this incredible journey.  Family and friends come from across the state, from around the country, and even from other countries to be a part of this moment with us.  We are now at around 80 team members, and our hearts are as full as our team!
So why do we continue to do it?  We race because we want to share our journey with this amazing community of other families, support providers, and with our own family and friends.  We are "Team My Max" and we race to support all with autism including our son Max!  We race as a team to support both the idea that all of us have our "uniqueness" and the idea of everyone deserving the opportunity and support that allows them to reach his or her own maximum potential, whatever that might be for all of us!

Team My Max

We race for our son who was diagnosed at age 2;
We race because we know the money stays local and we want to help others;
We race because we have personally benefited from the programs NFAR offers;
We race because it makes us feel supported;
We race because it inspires us and we want to inspire others.

Beth and Dennis
Team Nathan

It’s been almost 10 years since our Superheroes Lucas and Riley came into this world on April 2, or World Autism Day. Since then they have taught us so much about love, life and how to view the world in their eyes. We have been fortunate enough to receive help from so many. In an effort to give back we participate in the National Foundation for Autism Research’s Race for Autism. This year 2018, in honor of the boys 10th birthday Team Leeds Crew’s goal is to raise $10,000 with the help of our family and friends.

Team Leeds Crew


“The reason we race has evolved over the 7 years we have been participants. Initially it started because we were new parents to the Autism community and we were seeking resources that would benefit our family and connecting with other parents who were facing similar challenges and issues that we had at home and school. Everything in the ASD world was new and foreign to us so we wanted to get educated and contribute towards funding programs and education in our local Autism community.  Since then, the impetus and initiative has basically stayed the same, but grown towards more awareness within our own network of friends and community and spreading the word about how many wonderful things NFAR has done for the San Diego Autism community. We are proud participants, team leaders, runners, parents, success stories, and will continue to fundraise each year for NFAR!”
Lori and Joey
Parents to twin boys Ethan and Aidan, age 10
Team Larocque

“We started with NFAR 3 years ago and I remember the first day I started to go to the women's support group I felt I was right at home because everyone knew what I was going through! I feel that I've learned so much from meeting people and learning all about how to navigate such a confusing/complicated process as a parent from insurance to therapy to IEPs. We race for our 5 year old son who is full of love and joy and we race to support our fellow San Diego families that have children on the spectrum.” 

Masson, Cristina and Noah 
Noah’s A-Team


"I raced for the first time in 2015. My oldest had been diagnosed on the spectrum in 2014. After his diagnosis and seeing how hard he had to work to tackle things that come so naturally to neuro-typical persons, I decided to push myself in ways that forced me out of my comfort zone. So this was my first race, for my Leo. And now that our youngest has also been diagnosed, I run for them both. :)"
Team Leo & Max

"Our family races each year for my daughter Sofia! We noticed something wasn't right when Sofia was about 2 1/12 years old, we went to The San Diego Regional Center and they set us up with all kinds of resources to get Sofia diagnosed. We eventually got set up with Lovaas Institute for ABA therapy and now Sofia is 6 years old and she is doing amazing! I feel that early intervention is the key and we were given so much help as I wasn't working and we didn't have the income to afford these critical services. Being a part of the NFAR Race for Autism is our way of giving back to a community that has given so much to my daughter and our family. It's my hope that one day through research they can determine a cause of Autism but until then anything our family can do to give back we will! My nephew was recently diagnosed with Autism as well and so this is a cause that is near and dear to our entire family... that is Why We Race!"
Team Sofia's Superstars

"I race in the San Diego Race for Autism 5K each year for a few reasons:
      1)  This 5K serves as a fantastic gauge of my 5K racing capabilities. I’ve sliced my time each year from 34 minutes (my first 5K in     2008) down to 18 minutes 3 seconds (2016). The higher overall finish results take care of themselves. I finished 2nd overall in 2016. My goal is to finish under 18 minutes, and I am also aiming to reach the top step of the podium in the process. I compete with myself.
      2)  All the money raised by NFAR in this annual 5K stays in the San Diego community and supports programs that actually help individuals with special needs and their families.
      3)  The dance party after the race is fun too.
      4)  It never hurts to get more hardware for my showroom, lol.
Erik W.