On Saturday, wonderful people in Washington, Missouri, will be participating in the I Run 4 Buddy Run at their local YMCA. J’s buddy through I Run 4, Ximena, organized it and there will even be birthday cake at the finish line in honor of his birthday! This run supports Jacob and so many buddies as well as 4 Paws for Ability, an organization which we are very proud to be involved with.

This post is for Ximena and all the buddy runners:

Every day we each wake up with a battle. Some of our battles are huge, some are small, some are even quite odd or quite downright silly but they are just that – battles we must face. Some of us wear our battles on the outside for the world to see. Some of us, like Jacob, have battles that are harder to see or understand.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with autism it is a developmental disorder that impairs the senses and cognitive abilities of the brain. When you live with someone with autism, you quickly come to learn that it is not nearly as horrifying or scary or terrible as the media would have you to believe. It has boiled down to living with a child who is wired like a Mac in a world full of Windows machines. Sometimes, things translate effortlessly and other times they simply do not translate at all.

Four short years of life have been filled with tremendous strides for Jacob. Every mile his buddy Ximena runs for him he works hard to match finding ways to translate the way he operates into the world around him. We have been buddies with Ximena for six months and just to give a glimpse into the strides Jacob has taken, he has gone from being heavily reliant on sign and picture communication to being able to follow simple verbal instructions and explanations as well as to respond in kind. He speaks now, enough to have simple conversations with the people he is closest to, and he is slowly finding more and more pragmatic speech.

This is the battle he wakes up to every day and I have only rarely been blessed to meet someone who faces their world each day with a smile quite like his.

It is hard, as a mother, to watch your child struggle. It is even harder to live in fear for their safety and for their well-being. Autism leaves Jacob more susceptible to injury both by his inability to recognize dangerous situations and by his blindly trusting nature. His reactions when overstimulated also lead him into trouble, which is why last year we turned to 4 Paws for Ability to help us get him a service dog.

This October, Jacob’s short life will change again. He not only will have his running buddy but he will have his fur-ever buddy there to help support him on his journey. His dog will be trained in behavior disruption, tethering while under adult control and tracking should Jacob ever turn up missing. The gift 4 Paws offers families like ours is beyond what words can say. Many organizations would be at best reluctant to help children so young as he yet 4 Paws sees these children as very much in need and very able to be helped. They take pride in making the impossible, as they say, “paws-able” and give families like ours a sense of security and hope.

I am, as ever, overly wordy!

Thank you, for running today in support of I Run 4 and all its amazing runners and families and also for 4 Paws for Ability. Inspiration is sometimes all that can get us through the battles we each face, be it to tie on our shoes and get out there to run or to face a day in a world that is hard for us to always understand. Sometimes, we all just need to know that we’re in this together, and that our actions mean something to someone. Thank you for running and thank you for being there.