Among the challenges we have faced over the last year due to the pandemic, feeling isolated, disconnected, confused and stressed can be the reality for many people. These feelings can be especially true for a family whose child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation. After a year of uncertainty, our community is seeking to reconnect with others and remedy these feelings that have been magnified during these unprecedented times, now more than ever.
Over the years, the signs of spring – the flowers, time change and Valley sunshine – are traits that April, recognized as Autism Awareness Month, is upon us. At Valley Children’s and for our families who have been impacted by ASD, this has also traditionally meant it was time for the annual Run with the Heroes event. This event benefits Valley Children’s George’s Pass program founded in 2014 to make a positive impact on the hospital surgical experience for children with ASD. It includes processes and resources for staff, parents and patients to create a better, more individualized experience for all involved.
While Run with the Heroes started off with amazing teams coming together to raise awareness and provide resources in a sensory-friendly atmosphere, it became so much more. The event quickly became a safe space that was welcoming and inclusive for not just our kids with ASD, but their families who are impacted too – together, everyone felt a sense of community they finally belonged to. Year after year, we grew closer through a bond of familiarity regardless of how well we knew others, built trust even with families who were attending for the first time and spread comfort as a child’s doctor or nurse met their grandparents and extended loved ones. The event was flooded with kindness, love and acceptance.
This year, the Run with the Heroes event is going virtual – so get your cape on and join us with a run on the treadmill, a bike ride around your neighborhood or a fitness class on ZOOM! By posting our “I run for” certificates on social media, and including friends and loved ones from afar, we can connect even though we are not physically together. Click here to register for a virtual Run with the Heroes.
Post by Shelly Reyes, BSN, RN, CPN