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As most of you know Fred and I love a challenge, so we recently committed to embark on another crazy adventure. And when I say “crazy,” I mean downright barmy-we are certain to be pushed to our limits! Here’s the plan: In September 2017, we’ll pack up a few bits and bobs, do some light stretching….and then hop over to Tanzania and climb Mount Kilimanjaro!
As mad as this may seem, it is certainly worthwhile, as we will be raising money for an outstanding organisation: ACEing Autism.
ACEing Autism was founded in the summer of 2008 by Richard Spurling & Dr. Shafali Jeste in Boston, MA. as a family run organization with the invaluable efforts of its volunteers & supporters. They launched their first program at The Longfellow Club, Wayland (MA) with 15 children. In the spring of 2009 they added a second location, The Weymouth Club in Weymouth (MA). Richard quickly realized that he could greatly enhance the lives of children and families with autism through tennis, and he made a commitment to dedicate his career to the development and expansion of ACEing Autism. Since November 2016 1,027 children with ASD have enrolled in their programs, 2,864 hours of ACEing Autism tennis classes delivered to children with autism and more than 37,000 hours of community service earned by students through ACEing Autism’s volunteer program. aceingautism.org
My Nephew, Euan, is six years old, and was flagged for developmental issues when he was 2. In 2015, he received a formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His primary challenge is expressive speech-engaging in social conversations that are a staple of everyday life for typical humans. For over four years, Euan has had a steady diet of speech therapy, occupational therapy, sessions with speech pathologists, appointments with the developmental pediatrician, and special assistance in school, to name just a few. Euan is very well cared for, and with continued intervention his prognosis is very good. Given his issues and with all these medical-related activities, however, he had been missing out on a hallmark of childhood: sports. The absence of sport is even more apparent given the athleticism of his two sisters: Niamh (tennis, football, American football, and basketball) and Zara (gymnastics, tennis, and football). Fortunately, earlier this year Chad and Elana learned about ACEing Autism, and everything it is doing for children with ASD. In November Euan took his very first proper tennis lesson at an ACEing Autism clinic. We think he liked flipping the score cards more than hitting the volleys, but that’s okay! He was out on the court, engaging with the coaches and other children, and having fun. And that is a victory!
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will be the ultimate challenge and an outstanding accomplishment for us both. We are planning for months of preparation and hard work, focusing on all the logistics and the two main physical challenges: fitness and altitude. Ten months of cardiovascular training- running, cycling, swimming, climbing and Bikram Yoga-should have us prepared. As for the altitude…. that’s a tough one! We’ll seek out high elevations for training, but we’ll mostly plan a slow and steady climb with a guide to the summit! We would greatly appreciate the support of all our lovely family and friends. We will certainly be very grateful, as will Euan and all of the children who benefit from the work of ACEing Autism.
Standing at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – the rooftop of Africa and one of the greatest natural wonders of the world will be an incredibly breathtaking experience! Literally, we’ll be gasping for air! I expect it to change our entire outlook on life. And your support of ACEing Autism will have an equally monumental impact on the lives of children with autism.