#GivingTuesday Is Going To Be Thirteen Days Long!

#GivingTuesday, “the giving season’s opening day,” is this Tuesday, November 27! True to its overachiever ways, Charity Miles issued a challenge yesterday: double contributions for anyone who would walk, run, or bike at least a mile for each of its 13 causes.

I tried a strategy to cover each of the Charity Miles causes back in October but then the blue-haired gorilla thing happened and I got obsessed enthusiastic about a challenge that was specific to Autism Speaks.

But I have been given another chance with this challenge, and I am going to meet it!

Twenty minutes a day for the next eleven days to walk/run my miles on top of all of my other obligations seems like a lot, but as we dig out of the two year unemployment situation, I have more time than money so it’s a way for me to honor Giving Tuesday, to keep the Giving Tuesday excitement alive, and to (hopefully) generate additional awareness of and enthusiasm for the Charity Miles causes.

I mean, honestly, 20 minutes is a minor sacrifice for me but:

Anyone who has gone through chemotherapy can attest that 20 minutes of post-chemotherapy misery feels a lot longer. A reason to Stand Up To Cancer.

Families all across America face difficulty feeding their children. Families affected by Hurricane Sandy will experience this challenge long after the news cameras have left. I heard that families right here in North Florida affected by the declining oyster industry were encouraged to tell their children to drink a glass of water at night so they will be less hungry since they didn’t have enough to eat. A reason to support Feeding America.

The time it takes me to walk a mile will be a portion of the time it takes laboring women in some countries to walk to a place where they can give birth in relative safety. A reason to support Every Mother Counts.

For every Parkinson’s Disease patient or family member who asks “I’ve Got What?” my twenty minutes may help a researcher get a little bit closer to an answer. A reason to support The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

I don’t know if it took Abu Mohamed exactly 20 minutes to take advantage of a lull in fighting in Syria to escape with his family to safety, but I do know they are now dependent on the United Nations World Food Programme for nutrition. A reason to support the World Food Programme.

My easy mile around my hometown block is nothing compared to 20 minutes of agonizing physical therapy endured by a soldier working his or her way through rehabilitation. A reason to support the Wounded Warrior Project.

My twenty minutes is nothing compared to a family searching fruitlessly for their pet who was displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The ASPCA is helping these pets; a reason to support the ASPCA.

A twenty minute conversation between a Nature Conservancy worker and an indigenous person can help solidify earth-healthy practices that can help generations to come. A reason to support the Nature Conservancy.

In twenty minutes, progress can be made toward helping a family have an affordable home of their own. A reason to support Habitat for Humanity.

In twenty minutes, one child who has never held a pencil — a pencil — could be handed the simplest of learning tools and start on a road to learning and empowerment. A reason to support Pencils of Promise.

In twenty minutes, I can safely walk in the dark or the light through my neighborhood. For Eline Oidvin, it may take twenty minutes or longer to line up a sighted guide to help her prepare for her marathon training (she is visually impaired). A reason to support Achilles International.

In twenty minutes, a health worker can visit a family in an area that would otherwise go unserved. A reason to support The Global Fund.

I’m going to walk or run for all of them (already did for Feeding America and the ASPCA) but would love your help in picking what to do next! Tell me which I should do first via this survey:

Click here to take survey

And PS – there’s a reason I didn’t put Autism Speaks in the survey. In full candor, of all the causes, it is my favorite. Hence it is getting my mile on my birthday (Wednesday, November 28). Read why it is so close to my heart here, here, here, and here.

 

 

The List

This post is starting today, and, if everything goes according to plan, will be capped off next Sunday by a confirmation from me that I completed the Boston 13.1 Run as an Autism Speaks team member. I don’t plan to write a full post next Sunday (a rarity in the three years I have been blogging weekly) because by that evening I will have run the race in Boston and made my way to New York City. I have roughly 60 hours in the City and plan to squeeze in every moment of BigApple-ness that I possibly can.

On February 14, 2012, I read this post and announced to my husband that evening that the best Valentine’s Day gift he could give me would be an endorsement of my running the Boston 13.1 on September 16. He wisely said yes (not that a “no” would have been anything to me except a minor hurdle!) and the planning began.

There are many reasons why I chose this race, in this place, on this day. I documented three of the biggest reasons in this April, 2012, post. As the precursor to running the race, I want to dedicate each of the miles.

Mile 1:   Mile 1 is dedicated to the Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. CARD’s First Words Project provided assessment, support, and services to our family when my son was young and taught me about the pre-verbal developmental signs that may indicate a child has an autism spectrum disorder. And they answered my zillion questions, not to mention empathizing with my spiraling-out-of-control anxiety.

Photo credit: FSU Autism Institute

Mile 2:  Mile 2 is dedicated to the HollyRod Foundation. Admittedly, most of my impression of the HollyRod Foundation’s work on behalf of Autism has been gleaned from reading Holly Robinson Peete’s tweets, and her open letter to Rapper 50 Cent. Those tweets and that open letter were enough for me to know that a) she loves her boy and b) she uses her fame in an articulate and focused way to help others with Autism. That’s enough for me.

Mile 3:  For Thomas. Read his mom’s posts about autism here.

Mile 4:  For Kidlet.  Kidlet is the son of friends. He watches Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on Saturday mornings and he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Of course he rocks.

Mile 5:  For Kyan. Kyan is the son of Mary Foley, who is the Chairperson of Jacksonville, Florida’s, Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Watch the 2 minute video on Mary’s “Why I Walk” post, and I guarantee it will be two minutes well spent.

Kyan

Mile 6:  For Josef, Cher’s son. Cher and I only know each other via Facebook, even though we live in the same town. Josef is 8 years old and has autism; his mom has been so supportive of every single one of my efforts related to autism.

Josef

Mile 7:  Mile 7 is dedicated to Delirious Mom, conductor of her self-described “Crazy Train,” and her daughters. Read about her experiences being the mother of twin girls who have autism here.

Delirious Mom’s Girls

Mile 8:  Mile 8 is dedicated to Giana.  Giana’s grandmother, Christine, became a social media friend of mine through our families’ experiences with Long QT Syndrome. Giana is young and is still having various assessments done.  At this point Giana is believed to have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and is receiving the recommended therapy and is making wonderful progress.

Mile 9:  Mile 9 is dedicated to Boy Wonder, a six year old with autism. I can’t wait to meet his mother, “Jersey,” at the run. That alone will be worth the hundreds of miles traveled to Boston and the 13.1 miles of running. Read her blog; it will only take you a few posts to understand why.

Mile 10:  Mile 10 is dedicated to Carly Dowling. Carly used to be my daughter’s dance teacher but has remained a friend and role model. She teaches children with autism in South Florida. She deserves much more than a mile.

Miss Carly, Teacher and Friend

Mile 11:  Mile 11 is dedicated to “The Menininho.” He is the son of my incredibly resourceful and engaging social media friend, Maya, who blogs about many things, including Marfan Syndrome, at www.marfmom.com. “M” was diagnosed with autism in 2010.

Mile 12:  Mile 12 is dedicated to Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Temple Grandin is an adult with autism who is a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism. Every time I hear her interviewed, I am blown away by her intellect, her perspective, and the contributions she has made in so many areas.

Mile 13:  Well, Mile 13 and the extra .1, here you are. And I pray that next Sunday by 10:30 am. (race cut off time), that is where I will be too. One family that has gone the “extra mile” and then some is Luau, whose post kicked off this journey and Jess, whose many written-at-4am-to-the-detriment-of-her-own-well-being posts have taught me, encouraged me, entertained me, and motivated me. So for the two of you, for Brooke, and for big sister Katie (and even the dog), this mile point one is for you.

Even the dog “goes blue” to support Autism Speaks

I have only scratched the surface with these dedications when it comes to the people and organizations who have impacted me when it comes to understanding more about autism and becoming an advocate. If I didn’t identify you by name, please know that you and your family matter so much.

And now, a placeholder until next Sunday night, when I plan to report back on my first half marathon:

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

 See you next Sunday night!!