IRun4 is an organization that matches a person who has special needs, a warrior sibling, a veteran or someone who has passed away with a runner. Once matched, the runner’s purpose to run becomes their buddy! The runners I have spoken with have all told me that,now that they have a buddy, their running, training and workout time has felt like it is about something much bigger than themselves. They have gotten inspiration from their buddies to keep going! They have a buddy counting on them to do things they may never be able to do.
When you’re told your child has special needs, you’re given a completely different direction in life than before the diagnosis. Hearing the words “Your son has moderate autism” is something you can never prepare for. No matter how strong you think you are, those words will bring you to your knees. All of a sudden, you’re spending every waking moment researching everything possible. Google and you become best friends. Therapies, diets, studies, testing, support groups. Everything starts to blend together and some days you feel like you can’t catch your breath. Many years later, these emotions still wash over me. Want to know the most important thing that has helped me cope? A support system! Your support system can look different than you first anticipated and include friends, family and even complete strangers! One of my favorite places for support has been from an amazing organization called I Run for Michael, Inc (also known as IRun4).
Dom is matched with Heidi, who lives across the country and has been waiting two years to be matched! Avalina is matched with Wendy (bonus is her son running as well!) who lives just a few states away. Lucca’s runner, Rene (and bonus is her husband) also live a few states away They post either in the private group or on their personal Facebook page about their workout, or run, and talk about it and about how they thought of the kids during that time. Even when they’re on vacation in Hawaii, they still share about their run or adventures where they have thought off the kids, It’s a fun way to connect and the kids feel special because someone outside of their close-knit family and friends is spending time thinking of THEM! Runner mail sometimes appears in our mailbox as a fun surprise for the kids. Stuffed animals, shirts, and all the way to medals the runners have won! Avalina’s runner even sent her a personalized medal rack to hang all the medals they send. As you can tell by her face, it really made her day and made her feel loved and special.
The autism life can get isolating at times, for all family members especially siblings. They give up so much for their brother/sister that we sometimes forget that they are just kids too. Everyone wants to feel important just for them. Siblings, especially ones who remember life pre autism, can start to feel unwanted or second class. At best, you are constantly tired and overwhelmed all the time. At worst, you’re exhausted and lonely with your anxiety at an all time high. You can’t see the forest for the trees because your whole life revolves around autism and its’ never ending needs. If you don’t make a concerted effort to make your warrior siblings feel important as well, they will suffer immensely. This is one way to acknowledge their needs and sacrifices in Autismland. Siblings are a crucial component to your child with autism’s success. Take time to cultivate their relationship and be absolute sure you are taking care of their needs as well.
IRun4 helps give families an even bigger support system. You can’t have too many people in your corner cheering you on. They currently have a long wait list of runners waiting for buddies. If you have a loved one who you think would benefit from having a runner, please head over to their website and sign up! They would be delighted to pair you up with a buddy. Is it going to be life changing? Probably not? Is it going to be a fun addition to your family? Absolutely. Don’t discount adding the fun stuff to counteract all the autism stuff. It’s the fun stuff that motivates you through the tough autism times. The benefit of knowing someone is cheering you on and thinking of you on a regular basis can not be overstated. It will take you seconds to sign up and bring you joy. What more can you ask for in an organization?
IRun4 Website: whoirun4.com