Running for Anna
Thank you all for taking the time to visit my fundraising page again this year. I know economic times continue to be difficult, which makes reaching out for fundraising equally so. Many of you know that a few years ago, I started running. Crossing the finish line of a half marathon (13.1 miles) is an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and many of you know that my journey to the finish line has been measured in more than miles.
Last year, I ran my third half marathon in Philadelpha to raise money for Autism research after learning that my two-year old niece was recently diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects development, specifically the abilities to communicate and socialize. Last year, Anna, though a loving child, was non-verbal and noncommunicative, largely socially disengaged, and developmentally delayed. This last year, she has been fortunate enough to be part of an intensive, but prohibitively expensive, program of therapies and today, when I see her, I am greeted with a big smile, a wave, and a "Hi Jenny!" She likes to read me her favorite stories, dance, sing, play our own special games, and most importantly, tell us what she wants or needs. And when she says goodbye after a visit, I get to hear "Goodbye, My Jenny." In just this last year, it is as if a switch has been turned on inside this little girl who, unknown to her, has worked so hard. Her early diagnosis and intervenion have made this signfiicant progress possible. But despite how far she has come, she has years of therapies ahead of her.
Anna's progress has not come without the financial and emotional sacrifice of her amazingly devoted parents (who just celebrated their second daughter's first birthday). To give Anna the best possible care, Anna's mother, my sister-in-law, lives an hour away from my brother, her husband and the girls' father, during the week to be closer to Anna's school. This great sacrifice, though, cannot be measured in words. It's not as if Anna is a totally different child. She's just becoming the person she is meant to be, and nothing gives me more joy than to watch all the new, wonderful things she does and says each time I see her. She's a funny little monkey full of surprises.
Many aspects about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are not well understood, and the therapies and services to assist people with this diagnosis are very expensive, so the significant need for ongoing research and financial support continues. Many children are not as fortunate as Anna (or her sister, Abby, who has also benefited as an infant) to be able to avail themselves of such therapies, and even for those who are, the financial commitment is overwhelming, and sometimes devastating, especially for young parents. There are currently no medications or surgeries to "cure" Autism, but, through education and research, the more that is understood about this developmental disorder, the better healthcare providers can tailor the appropriate therapies and services, giving children, like Anna, the best chance at success. Access to such services is equally important.
So again this year, to benefit Autism research, I am proudly running the Philadelphia Half Marathon (my third Philly and fifth half) on November 18, 2012. It is a privilege to be able to combine such a life-affirming event with a cause that, I have witnessed firsthand, makes a huge difference not only in the lives of those affected by ASD, but in the lives of those who love and care for them. In even a short time since Anna has started her therapies, we have seen her make tremendous progress and her promise for the future is full of hope. I have also been very humbled by the financial and emotional support of family and friends in the past who last year helped me raise over $1,500.
Your name and donation amount will not be published on my donor page so as not to discourage anyone based on other's donations. I thank you sincerely for your support and please, pass this on to any of your family members, friends or colleagues who you feel may support me or the cause.