ONE RESIDENT WITH AUTISM SHOWS INCREDIBLE PASSION FOR RUNNING AND WELLNESS

It takes an exceptional individual to excel in the art of running – one who has heart, true grit, steadfast commitment, and an intense spirit. And that individual is a young man named Brian, who is one of our residents at The Center for Discovery. Fortunately for us, we were privy to his exciting journey as he competed in 15 races throughout 2018. Yes, you read that right – 15!

It was a difficult feat to keep pace with Brian as he raced throughout Sullivan, Orange, Ulster and Delaware counties in New York (including one 10K), along with one race in Pennsylvania, but we watched with pride and admiration as his journey unfolded.

When we asked Brian how he first got into running, it was because he wanted to get “more fit.” Three years ago, he began training gradually. He started off power walking around campus with some of our staff and during the last two laps, he’d transition into a light jog. Today, he doesn’t walk or even stop – he runs and finishes each race he participates in with a true, “can do” attitude. This past October, Brian and one of his many running partners, Jim Cashen, our Assistant Chief of Integrated Arts, participated in a local race despite freezing rain in 34 degree temps. Brian’s mindset during that race? “We’re doing this!” And that he did, because he ended up taking home 1st in his age category!

Throughout 2018, Brian remained dedicated to an incredibly comprehensive wellness path by properly feeding his body and spirit – not only via his commitment to healthy eating, but with his fond love of running, too. Through our Food is Medicine approach to healthy living, coined by our Department of Nourishment Arts team, Brian knows the significance of eating to fuel the body and every single day, he makes a conscious effort to incorporate nutrients that allow him both physically and mentally, to compete in many races. Today, he proudly eats a diet full of vegetables and salads, and while his favorite beverage is sweetened iced tea, he now takes it unsweetened.

Not only a runner and healthy eating connoisseur, Brian is also one of the friendliest people we know, so it’s no surprise that he’s developed close relationships with our staff and numerous race directors – and has QUITE the fan base! Our Chief of Adult Programs here at The Center, Alyce Sherwood, who runs most of the races with Brian, mentioned that many of our staff, along with dozens of co-runners and race spectators, view him as an inspiration, which is why he can always count on someone to run alongside him, to bring him to a race, and to cheer him on – whether on the roads or off. And while he does have some top races that he competes in each year – like the Allyson Whitney 5k and the Rhulen Rock Hill Run & Ramble – he is always on the lookout to see what’s next. As with most of our local running community, it’s an incredibly supportive and non-competitive group of runners who are all striving for personal best times in every way – just like Brian. His favorite part of it? Brian says that he LOVES to socialize. Not only are the races fun for him to participate in, but he loves the comradery and is always encouraging those around him. Fun fact: he always waits until everyone has finished the race.

So what’s in store for Brian this year? Well, he continues to train (indoors, at the present time) and has set a new goal for a personal record of 32:00. Right now, his PR is 33:08 when running a 5k but as Brian says, “I’m always trying to push myself” – and that he does! He’s already expressed interest in continuing with some of his favorite local runs, and even wants to add another 10k into the mix. While he’s not quite ready to take on a half-marathon, we see big things in Brian’s future and we can’t wait to be a part of them.

For more information about supporting our Recreation Therapy Program, please contact Richard Humleker, Vice President of Development, at rhumleker@tcfd.org.

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