Tuesday, January 20, 2015
WODism For Autism, the Beginning
Sean and a select few set up a tent and then did a day-long, grueling workout as people came by to watch and make donations for this charity. My three boys were caught up in it also, very proud of their donations as they handed each can of vegetables one at a time to the lady who was collecting them. It was obvious to me that my youngest two wanted to jump in and start working out with them. They watched with respect as these strong guys worked through their grinding workout for a good cause and as I stood there next to them, I was inspired.
I spent the whole drive home in deep thought, my mind going a thousand miles an hour. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I could do something like this, too. I was energized! I had an idea and I couldn't wait to get home and tell my husband about it.
See, my oldest son, Taylor, has high functioning autism. He is now 17 years-old, and the resources available to him today are many, but when he was a toddler and I was a young mom, there were not many at all. No "internet highway" for me to find everything we needed for Taylor. There were many long days in the beginning that we felt like we were on our own, treading water. I am grateful to say that we found the perfect school for him with amazing teachers and therapist but I know that this is not the story for a lot of families. I wanted to help.
Taylor started CrossFit Kids not long after I began CrossFit in 2010 and he did really, really well at it. He really seemed to like it and I felt like I had finally found something for him that would keep him active, and more importantly to me, engaged with his peers.
On the drive home from Backpack for Buddies that day, I started to envision it. I could combine my love for CrossFit and my desire to help other families who are living with autism. I decided that I wanted to create an event, similar to the one Sean had hosted with the big difference being that anyone could participate in it. An event that would introduce CrossFit to children and adults with autism or other special needs and as a result raise money for our local Autism charity.
I had no idea where to even begin but I took a step out in faith and just went with it.I thought maybe we would raise a couple of thousand dollars, I really didn't know what to expect.
Taylor's favorite movements in CrossFit are the gymnastic movements. The idea was to create a workout in his honor using movements that he likes to do. I knew the perfect person to program the perfect WOD (Workout of the Day). I asked my friend, Jeff Tucker with GSX CrossFit and he was happy to help!
The event would be called WODism for Autism and the format was simple. Do the WOD, "Taylor", which is a short AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) and pay a donation to participate. If you just wanted to buy a t-shirt, the proceeds from those also went to the charity.
I think we had around 60-70 people participate that first year and we raised a little over $7,000. I was elated!
Since that first year, we have had hundreds of people come out to support WODism for Autism. In 2013 we year raised over $17,000 for the Autism Society of Alabama.
This year will mark the fourth year for the WODism for Autism and I can't wait to see what we will achieve this year. Our charity this year is KultureCity and they are making a huge difference in so many lives! Taylor looks forward to WODism for Autism every year now. He marks it down on the calendar as soon as we hang up the new yearly calendar for him.
WODism for Autism is close to my heart. Every year, my cup runneth over but I know that there is no way any of this could be pulled off without all the amazing people that put in their time to help and support it. I am surrounded by so many incredible people with enormous hearts!
I learned some very important things through this little journey.
The CrossFit Community is AMAZING!
People WANT to make a difference.
Autism touches the lives of just about every person you and I know.
Watching a child with special needs, ANY special needs, participate in a group event like this and seeing the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it.