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Dear Family and Friends,
We are excited to share with you a personal challenge that we have committed to completing together. We are currently training to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles, on September 16, 2012 together. We are doing this in the hope of raising money for autism research. The team we chose in doing this challenge is the Organization for Autism Research. This will be Ashley’s 4th half marathon & Nikki’s 1st half marathon. After Ashley ran the full Chicago Marathon in 2008 raising money for OAR, she has been pushing Nikki to go after her goal of running a half marathon. She was finally convinced this year as we have the opportunity to yet again run for this fantastic organization that is way bigger than ourselves.
We are running this race for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is for Nikki’s son & Ashley’s cousin, Tommy, who was diagnosed with autism at a very early age. We are hoping to lessen the challenges Tommy, as well as others with autism, face on a daily basis. What we are doing on September 16th is a “walk in the park” compared to what people with autism deal with everyday. Those of us blessed to know and love Tommy understand the wonderful individual he is. He is funny, lovable and gives unconditional love. As Nikki says, “he has taught me patience, compassion and not to take life so seriously. He has made me a better person. It has certainly not been easy to raise, develop, teach, and discipline Tommy but it has never been difficult to love him.” On the other hand, Ashley looks at Nikki as a hero, with the “strength & courage to raise Tommy to be the lovable young man he has grown to be. Her 24/7, non-stop commitment to caring for Tommy has made me realize that running several miles really is a ‘walk in the park’. I hope not only to lessen the challenges that Tommy faces, but also the challenges his amazing parents have to endure every single day.”
The second reason is for our own personal growth. We’ve both been blessed with good health. Run for Autism gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves & push our bodies to the max in a way to honor and support those whose daily lives are impacted by autism.
As you may or may not know, 1 in 110 children are born with autism, which directly affects the way a person interacts with people and their environments. Autism is a lifelong challenge for the individuals diagnosed and a life changing challenge for their families. While the cause is unknown and a cure is not yet on the horizon, research provides hope and the promise of a better quality of life for all of those affected by autism.
All proceeds will go directly to the Organization for Autism Research, a national non-profit that funds research and resources for people diagnosed with autism and their families. While running the half marathon this September, we know that each mile will symbolize another step on the road to a better quality of life to those affected by autism.
Please consider sponsoring us in the Run for Autism. Every donation, no matter how big or small, makes a difference. Donations can be sent directly to the OAR with our team name as a memo, pledged with a credit card at www.FirstGiving.com - team search “Trot for Tommy”, or you may send to either of us a check (payable to OAR) and we can forward to the OAR.
We truly appreciate your willingness to help, and again, thank you for your generosity.
Nikki Johnson & Ashley Novak