BENEFITING: AUTISM RESEARCH FOUNDATION
EVENT: 2015 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 20, 2015
Maggie McConnell wrote -
I am so honored to have been asked to run the 2015 Boston Marathon on behalf of the Autism Research Foundation!!
I could not be more proud to be given the opportunity to once again work with and for The Autism Research Foundation through running the 2015 Boston Marathon on their behalf. TARF is beginning to raise money for an all inclusive autism campus. Having an all-inclusive campus would provide almost all of the necessary research, clinical, academic and social resources in one convenient location. This is important to all families of children with disabilities, especially autism, where changing schedules and locations can be highly challenging and uncomfortable for loved ones.
An inclusive campus allows TARF to evaluate and treat individuals with a multidisciplinary approach, giving all of the professional caregivers the opportunity to work together closely to determine the best strategies for their patients. This strategy is expensive because it is so highly personalized, but because autism affects each individual uniquely, any other strategy doesn't do justice to the complexity of treatment required.
The ultimate goal is to demonstrate the practice of consistent training, research and evaluation method across all disciplines of disability care. Giving someone the best possible start to an inclusive and individualized quality-of-life gives them the best possible outcomes for meaninful education, employment and relationships down the road.
I believe in the mission and practice of the Autism Research Founation and their LADDERS Clinic, from their inclusion programs with Athletes 4 Autism, to their groundbreaking, person first approach to treatment and care. I am so proud to support this mission in the 2015 Boston Marathon, and can't wait to see what The Autism Research Foundation will do moving forward.
My first internship experience in college, (way way back in 2011!) was with The Autism Research Foundation (TARF). Despite the fact that at the time I had very little experience, Courtney and the entire TARF team was willing to take a chance to give me the opportunity to see what I could do. Their belief in me then has taken me to where I am now-- pursuing higher education in psychology, through so many amazing experiences along the way. Working closely with TARF, I was immediately impressed with thier mission to provide the over 1.5 million Americans with autism spectrum disorders with respectful care, research-based treatment, and community based inclusion and education. Dr. Margaret Bauman, the staff of the LADDERS Clinic and the TARF team have long believed that "...each person merits the opportunity...to receive the quantity and quality of services necessary to allow that individual to reach his or her maximum potential for independence and personal growth, regardless of economic, social and ethnic background". The boundless respect and encouragement that I felt immediately upon joining the TARF team echos in everything they do, for all individuals they come into contact with.
One of the experiences closest to my heart was working with TARF to develop Athletes 4 Autism, an inclusion program aimed at increasing positive play opportunities, team building, and social skills for children with and without autism. Since sports have been such a monumental part of my life, I identified very closely with the need for all children, regardless of ability, to have positive experiences with sports. TARF and A4A provide the spaces and experiences for kids with and without autism to learn important social skills, make friends, and have fun. Everyone deserves a chance to get in the game, and I am so proud to work with TARF and A4A to continue to work for this.
Finally... to say that I was devastated by the bombing two years ago would be an understatement. I was shocked, confused, sad, angry, scared and a bunch of emotions I still have trouble putting a finger on. I was also grateful-- I had volunteered to load runners on the bus that morning, helping them make it out to the race and giving encouragement to first timers. Since I was already in the city, the plan was to stay and watch the race from the finish line. For whatever reason,I had a minor temper tantrum about wanting to go out to Wellesley to watch instead. Both my boyfriend Mark and I were safe from harm, a blessing which I couldn't understand why I was given, and which was not afforded to so many.
The Marathon holds a special place in my heart, a representation of the triumph of human spirit and the community of the city of Boston. My overwhelming feelings after the bombing inspired me to run my first marathon., in the hopes of channelling all of those feelings into something positive. Two years later, I am beside myself to be running the Boston Marathon in 2015, and to give back to the community of Boston by raising money for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. This is a dream come true, and something that I never in a million years believed would happen. It is an honor and a privilege, and I cannot wait to see the spirit of Boston from the race course, representing The Autism Research Foundation.