I run for Jack........I ran the NYC Marathon in 2006. I did it for the personal experience, the personal goal, and for health and well-being. Sort of a mid-life crisis thing. I was never an athlete. I never ran more than 5 minutes before I started training for that marathon. Training for a marathon is a hard, grueling process where you run miles and miles through rain, snow, sleet, and heat. But there was nothing that matched the feeling of running across that marathon finish line in 2006. I ran that marathon successfully, and since then I have run 2 other marathons as well.
I will again run the NYC Marathon on Sunday, November 4, 2012. This time I will run for my son, Jack, (included in picture) who has severe autism and for Catholic Charities - NY. Approximately 2 years ago, my husband John and I met with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, CEO of Catholic Charities - NY, and some of his staff. At the time of the meeting, my 22 year old son, Jack, was soon to age out of his student placement at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, Massachusetts, a residential program where a very specialized teaching method called applied behavior analysis allowed Jack to learn, to live, and to function as independently as possible. This teaching method is the only way in which Jack has ever learned a new skill and has ever been able to manage his serious behavior difficulties.
Soon Jack would not have a place to live or to learn. As an adult, he had to leave The New England Center for Children and find an adult placement in New York State. There were no residential programs available for adults in New York State which used this specialized teaching method which Jack needed to survive and continue to progress. In fact, due to the recent economic crisis, available beds for disabled adults in general were few and far between. We were being told by many that no new group homes for adults were being created in New York State and there was a freeze on new development. We were in desperate need of help.
I will never forget what Monsignor Sullivan said to us that day - "You need help. We will help you." No one had ever said that to me before in 21 years. And that is what Catholic Charities - NY has done for us since that day, and which they do for so many others, in different ways and in different capacities. And they do it without qualification, without condition, and without exception. They simply see someone in need, and they help.
Currently, my son Jack lives with 3 other autistic adults in a new residence in Ossining, NY, owned and managed by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services (CMCS), a wonderful agency under the umbrella of Catholic Charities - NY. He and the 3 other residents of his home attend a day habilitation program and a linked residential program where the crucial teaching method of applied behavior analysis is utilized on a day by day basis. This program is one of the first of its kind for autistic adults in New York State. Now the hard work, perseverance, and training which had been critical for these autistic individuals over many years, much like when you train for a marathon, will not be in vain. They can now continue to live and progress to their potential just like you or me. Catholic Charities – NY continues to help and support this program and other essential programs throughout the greater New York area. They change lives for the better. They changed my life and my son’s life.
Please join me in supporting Catholic Charities – NY and their inaugural team for the 2012 NYC ING Marathon. Donate what you can. Every little bit helps.
On November 4, I will run for Team Catholic Charities – NY and for all autistic individuals everywhere. I will run for my son Jack. Every day is a marathon for him.
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