Running for A Reason

Monday, October 19, 2015

Living on the autistic spectrum is not just about social skills.  For some of the kids at Camp G.R.A.C.E., the Y’s subsidized camp for children with autism and developmental disorders, achieving a physical goal is just as important. That’s why the A.E. Finley YMCA has pioneered Let’s Run Together.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, a team of eight athletes and eight volunteer coaches represented the Finley Y in the 17th Annual Triangle Run/Walk for Autism sponsored by the Autism Society of N.C. held in downtown Raleigh.

Richard Johnson, and his two coaches David Murray and James, ran close together as they approached the home stretch of the 5K and stepped over the finish line.  A Camp G.R.A.C.E. veteran of 11 years, Richard completed the race in 26 minutes, a personal best.  In addition to the Let's Run Together training program, he gained strenghth by working out at the Y twice a week. 

After the training, the whole group got together to celebrate, said Austin Branch, Senior Youth Director at Finley. “We had a great time running and training together for the 5K and one-mile runs. It was inspiring to feel the excitement and the high spirits of everyone on the Finley team.  We had lots of their families join us on the course or cheering us along the way.”

Mutual Goals

Let’s Run Together is a seven-week training program for participants at Camp G.R.A.C.E. during the summer.  Athletes and coaches train together on Thursday evenings on Finley’s upper fields. Camp G.R.A.C.E. is a day camp for children ages 5 - 15 with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) or autism. The camp focuses on growth, recognition, achievement, character and encouragement for each individual child. 

"It takes a special person to work at Camp G.R.A.C.E. Each counselor has to achieve a certain level of special training. We couldn’t do it without the Annual Campaign,” explained Austin.


The ripple effect of the Y’s Annual Campaign is felt by the campers and families at Camp G.R.A.C.E. who, through its support, can imagine more for their children’s outlooks and capabilities. 

Donations to the Annual Campaign provide scholarships and financial assistance for all Y programs, including Camp G.R.A.C.E., Y Learning, summer day camps, after school programs, youth sports and adult fitness programs. Help us imagine more for our community over the next few weeks. Read how you can be a part.