Congratulations! You (and hopefully your waistline and wallet) survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I hope you were able to fill your bellies with delicious food and your closets, stockings, houses and more with amazing new buys – I know I stocked up with some self-care goodies from Scratch Goods and some new work clothes from LOFT and I am so excited to get both packages in the mail.
In the wake of an entire weekend centered around treating yo’ self, today is a day truly dedicated to helping others. Happy Giving Tuesday.
For anyone not familiar with Giving Tuesday it is a global day of giving to kick off the charitable season. Whether giving to you means volunteering, making a donation, or something else to you, it is a day to remind yourself to give back.
While I’ll be spending the next year dedicated to raising money for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) through joining the Run for Autism Chicago Marathon team, I wanted to take a chance on Giving Tuesday to share a little more about this amazing organization. While I’d love if you felt so inclined as to make a donation to my marathon team, just knowing I could spread the word about this amazing, lesser-known charity would give me joy.
Founded 16 years ago, OAR was created directly by people whose lives and families had been impacted by autism with the mission to apply science to answer the daily questions and challenges that autism presents to individuals with autism, their families, teachers, and caregivers. Unlike other autism charities, OAR has a singular focus on applied research and the quality and practical value of its resource materials. Their ultimate focus through all of their research and studies is quality of life.
One of the things I find so inspiring about OAR is that of the 11 members of their Board of Directors most are autism parents, meaning they have an empathy and understanding of what autism learners need help with, respond well to, and what their families, caretakers, and teachers need to help them be the most successful. Therefore, they use the money they raise to fund research, create educational materials, provide scholarships, ands more. They have also created support resources for military families impacted by autism, created a jobs portal for persons with autism to connect with potential employers, and created school curriculums for students with autism. In other words, this organization has made amazing strides for learners with autism, and they do not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
With a parent study in 2015 estimating that 1 in 45 youth will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), though the official government estimate of 1 in 68 American children with autism, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is hard to find someone who hasn’t been impacted in some way by ASD. Not only did I grow up knowing many people diagnosed with ASD, but my cousin has been as well. Because of this, I felt immediately drawn to run for OAR when I first ran the Chicago Marathon in 2015. Next year will be my third Chicago Marathon, and my third time running for OAR.
This year my goal is to raise $1,000 for OAR – enough money to provide a research grant for a graduate student studying autism. If you would like to make a donation this Giving Tuesday it would mean the world to me. Any donations to my marathon fundraiser can be made here. And if not, that’s totally ok too! Thank you for just reading this far, learning more about an organization you may have never heard of, and learning why I Run for Autism.
Happy Giving Tuesday!