Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Justin, Ryan & Karen are Autism Heroes with Racing for Autism

Last week I saw a posting in one of the Autism related groups at Facebook from Racing for Autism. Racing for Autism helps raise money for Autism Awareness and is the brainchild of Ray and Julie Halleran.

Here is what the post said:

Let's make 2010 a great year for Autism Awareness! Honor your loved one by having their name proudly displayed on our racecars. We want to make the greatest statement possible with as many names as we can get. Please visit our website for more info at

Our two sons Justin and Ryan were both diagnosed in mid 2008 on the autism spectrum with Asperger's Syndrome and Autism / Autism Spectrum Disorder respectively.  I thought this would be a very cool way to show our support for Autism Awareness and to remind my children that in the eyes of their parents, grandparents and family, they are indeed Autism Heroes.

I wrote to the Racing for Autism group and received a quick and friendly response from Julie Halleran who is a co-founder of Racing for Autism and one of the drivers as well.  She and her husband, Ray Halleran have a beautiful daughter named Alexis Halleran who is autistic and non-verbal. She provides the inspiration for Racing For Autism.

Our 3 1/2 year old son Ryan is a HUGE fan of cars, Cars and CARS! It is a very special interest of his. Our 10 year old son Justin is a HUGE fan of Mario Kart Wii which is a racing game. The whole family has spent many of our Family Friday nights racing against each other and we've watched with amazement at how much this game has shown both Justin and Ryan's ability to focus and improve their hand / eye coordination. 

Julie responded very quickly to my email!  She let me know that they were pleased to include both Justin and Ryan and she even offered to include my name too since I am also an adult on the autism spectrum with Asperger's Syndrome and they are looking to raise awareness for both children and adults.  The boys thought it was really cool for Mom to be included so of course, I said yes.

Julie asked for a picture of us to include on the Autism Heroes page of their website.  Here is a photo of me and the boys:

Here is a link to pictures of Alexis Halleran and other Autism Heroes on the Racing for Autism website.
There is a very nice slideshow which shows the names, ages, pictures and geographic locations of other Autism Heroes throughout the world. 

Ray and Julie Halleran firmly believe that Racing for Autism is and should be about the people and families affected by this disorder. To that end, names of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders are proudly displayed on the race car, each printed on an individual puzzle piece ─ the universal symbol for autism.

Last year Racing for Autism also collected donations in the weeks prior to and during Targa Week, and later a cheque for $11,000 was presented to the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.  In 2010 they are planning to go bigger, better and beyond! 

Here are links to donate or become a sponsor. There is also additional information on their website.

Julie mentioned that as of now, they are still currently accepting names to be included on their 2010 Racecar so if you know of any children or adults on the spectrum who might like to be included, please check out their website and Facebook group for details!

Ryan and Justin are so excited to know their names are going to be on a real RACECAR and that mommy has been included too.

Here are a couple other family photos to show you how much the boys love cars and Mario Kart Wii.

This is Justin's Mario Kart Spiny Shell car that he and his dad, John Krejcha did for this year's Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Justin is a Webelos II and John is his den leader.

Ryan LOVES his Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.  He lines them up daily and loves to make parking lots.  We have used his special interest to help him with counting, colors and identifying car names.  We noticed about 6 months ago that Ryan has an amazing ability to identify car makes and models of all the vehicles in our neighborhood. 

Here are pictures of Justin and Ryan on their ATV!

Thanks again to Racing for Autism for allowing our boys to be included as Autism Heroes!

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