Welcome to My Personal Page
I am hoping you have met my grandson Matthew. He is 1 of 50 children in Maryland diagnosed with autism. Not too long ago, autism went undiagnosed for years. Fortunately, for Matthew, early diagnosis led to early intervention and I’ve seen amazing improvement in Matt Man’s speech, behavior, and social interaction. As you might imagine, significant resources are needed for research into the causes of autism and development of better interventions across the spectrum and throughout the life span. The teams at Kennedy Krieger, Verbal Beginnings, and ABCs of ABA implement these interventions and are the true heroes in Matt Man’s journey. Their dedication and love for these children is a joy and blessing for me to see and are a strong source of hope and encouragement for Katie and Sean (my daughter and son in law). Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by grandparents of a child with autism. Like me, they wanted better information and support for their grandchild. Its initial focus, building awareness of autism, has led to more research, legislative and healthcare reform, clinical studies, access to care, as well as physician and parent education, for which Matthew has benefitted greatly. On a more personal level, their efforts have increased global understanding and acceptance of people with autism. This had been a world totally unfamiliar to me. I’ve attended their seminars and have interacted with Autism Speaks - their many resources are invaluable. I am proud to participate with Autism Speaks in the MCM and would very much appreciate any contribution you are able to make. Because of our belief in their work, Cindy and I will match your contribution.
Victory Lap - My Journey
Though I ran cross country in college (am aka "Miles" by my college buddies), I hadn’t run since then until the spring of 2009 in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in DC – and did so largely on a challenge by a friend at work. I kept running 5-10K races and then started pursuing half marathons...eventually, in each state – actually did 6 states! I remember finishing my first half marathon in Baltimore and thinking, at the finish, I can’t go another step … and couldn’t fathom turning around and running the course again for a full marathon! Mentioning this to a trainer at Charm City Run, she said she’d get me across the finish line if I kept with her program ... I was “all in” for the Marine Corp Marathon in 2011.
Through all of the training - in heat and rain - I questioned (and was questioned) many times… “Why”? A few months before the race, my son reminded me that his Virginia Tech buddy, a Marine, Seth Mitchell had been killed in Afghanistan - I decided to run, with purpose, in his honor. I didn’t fully appreciate the enormity of his sacrifice until race day when I saw so many vets running with prosthetic hands and legs - some even both legs and riding bikes propelled with their hands! Placing myself as a parent, I thought the best thing I could do was to keep Seth’s memory alive by running for him. I wore a sign and always appreciated runners asking about Seth. This year is the 10th anniversary of his passing - Seth, may you Rest in Peace! Running the Bataan Death March marathon in New Mexico, the following March, I met survivors of that march in the Philippines who told their stories and even shook our hands at the finish - their passion for survival was beyond words. Incredibly, to a person, despite the atrocities they experienced and witnessed, they harbored no animosity toward the Japanese! We have so much to learn from this amazing generation…I knew I was in the presence of true heroes! We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of those whose lives were cut short and to those who willingly served our country! I’ve continued to run in Seth’s memory and hope to give the sign I've been carrying to his parents.
With these two marathons under my belt, I was hooked … and remember telling people I was pursuing the 50 states + DC! After 2, 3, 4 marathons, they’d laugh and say “you’ve got a long way to go”! I did get a lot of encouragement from my Doc (Thomas Lynch) as this pursuit has helped me me in my own fight against a history of diabetes in the family. He'd keep track of races and checked out course profiles...
Let the children come to me ... (Matthew 19:14)
This gratitude for, and celebration, of their lives would take on a more personal meaning, in September of 2012, when our son (John) and daughter in law (Jenny) received a pre-natal diagnosis that, if our grandson were to survive birth, his time with us would be very limited. I remember worrying if the delivery would happen while I was out of state running a marathon that I had already booked in Oklahoma (mid-November)…should I cancel? Joseph arrived two months early in December and his time with us was indeed very limited - 60 minutes - among the most profound in my life. During his brief time with us, Joseph touched, and continues to touch, many hearts and lives across the globe. I would be grateful if you would take some time to meet Joseph http://www.isaiahspromise.net/Sharing_Experiences.html Anxiety following Joseph’ diagnosis and joy after his birth, provided a range of emotions for reflection during training and races – more importantly, an incredible insight into just how precious and beautiful life is.
A few years later, in 2015, at age 2, Matthew was diagnosed. There were many questions at the time – what exactly is autism? … why Matthew? … what treatments? … not to mention anxiety over his future … much for reflection during runs. Like a marathon, Matt Man is truly on a journey as his treatment plans are being identified, prioritized, and reevaluated as time goes on. Once getting past the enormity of his journey, you see and love Matt Man for who he is … he has an infectious smile and a purity of heart that are undeniable … he is a true gift to us and especially for Katie and Sean.
Then in 2017, I lost a dear cousin, Dr Emile Mohler, in the prime of his life, to ALS. Emile's courage and positive spirit, throughout his difficult struggle, touched me in a special way. Most notably, Emile came, from Philadelphia, to the ALS Walk in Baltimore, despite pain, breathing difficulty, and doctor's advice...to show his appreciation for friends and family walking for him. He returned to the Lord within a week.
I’ve been carrying Seth, Joseph, Matt Man, and Emile with me under the moniker of Celebrate Life ! as each, in their own way, have made their made their marks in my heart.
As in life, it’s often said that marathons are all about the journey. Each marathon has its unique challenges … course profile, weather …with injuries along the way raising doubts that I’d ever reach this point. Crossing each finish line has been a true joy and blessing. I’m grateful to be approaching ”Victory” (officially 3 to go). Aside from the physical accomplishment, the journey has taken me to states I would never have seen otherwise … Maine Street America to the majestic Rockies to the Maine coastline ... we are truly blessed to be living in the USA! As important, the life events along my journey have helped me to appreciate my gifts and grow as a person.
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