by Jazzmine Haygood–MCJ Intern
A 100-mile run/walk to raise awareness and funds for autism will be taking place July 28 at Discovery World Museum, 500 North Harbor Drive.
The event is sponsored by Athletes for Autism Foundation (A4A), an organization that offers fitness courses and nutrition guidance to autistic children and their families. They also advocate for and support autistic individuals in schools, workplaces and communities.
Ron Thompson, CEO and Founder of A4A started the organization as a way to honor the memory of his daughter Deanna Thompson, who was killed in a 2009 auto accident by a drunk driver.
Thompson says obesity and diabetes is a problem for many autistic children. Parents compensate for their struggle with their children’s autism by feeding them fast food, thinking they’re offering their children a comfort zone through food.
‘We’re helping change the lives of autistic children just through exercise and nutrition,” Thompson said proudly.
The run will feature Yahminah McIntosh, the mother of an autistic son. She is running and walking from Milwaukee to Madison August 2-4.
For the first two days, McIntosh will be running 33 miles daily. But on the last day she will run 34 miles.
For a normal marathon runner a three-day run would be a piece of cake. But for McIntosh it’s anything but. She has Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a long-term autoimmune disorder that may affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs. The underlying cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully known. SLE is much more common in women than men. It may occur at any age, but appears most often in people between the ages of 10 and 50. African Americans and Asians are affected more often than people from other races.
“My doctor told me I would stop walking at 30,” McIntosh said. Not only is she 38 and walking, but running.
McIntosh is not just an international marathon runner but an inspirational writer, poet, motivational speaker, mentor, minister, artist, entrepreneur, radio host, and a lupus and autism advocate. She is the founder of SURVIVAH, The Judaism Shalom Project, and People Having a Mutual Love for Inspiration (P.H.A.M.L.I.).
SURVIVAH is an organization with a mission to inspire, celebrate and raise awareness and meet the needs of individuals affected by trauma, domestic violence, suicide, bullying and health issues.
The Judaism Shalom Project is a lecture and resource based collective that raises awareness, shares resources, educates and empowers families affected by autism, with hopes of creating a more helpful and informed community.
P.H.A.M.L.I. is a movement with a divine purpose to motivate, empower, educate and unite ALL people without exclusion.
McIntosh’s goal is to aid in changing the world one heart and mind at a time.
“The only way that each one can teach one, is if were willing to step outside of ourselves to reach one,” McIntosh said.