It was a cold and blustery day at Suffolk Downs, but the sky was blue and the walk was a success. We’ve been doing these fundraising walks with Jay since he was first diagnosed in 2001, and they just keep getting bigger. Years ago a nearby park in Cambridge was big enough to host the walk. Now we walk around a horse racetrack with an enormous parking lot out front. It’s a great venue. Those horses have a nice track. Here’s a brief local news clip of what the event looked like: “Greater Boston Walk for Autism” raises over $1 million.
Today there were over 20,000 people walking. This single fact brings obvious good news and bad news. Good news: we’re raising lots of money for autism research. Bad news: autism is a growth market. I’d love to tell you to sell your autism stock, but in truth you should be buying. It’s amazing how many families it affects.
When I ask for people to give money to this cause, I’m painfully aware of how many good causes are out there. You have your favorite charities and I have mine. And if some other evil had touched my life, I would be asking you to help me fight it instead of this one. But this is the one that touched my life. It moves me; I want to move you.
When you live in a house touched by a disability like autism, it’s very easy to turn inward. Most people seem to have it easier than you. There are two mistakes here. The first is thinking that some people get off easy. Every family has troubles, but they are often hidden from view. This leads to the second mistake, which is turning inward, thereby feeling sad and lonely at once. You can’t always stop the sad, but you can stop the lonely. That’s one of the things that’s great about the walk. You achieve a practical goal, raising money, but you also get to look around and say, “My God, look at all these people who have to deal with this.” It gives you sympathy for others, and then, as a kind of bonus, some healing sympathy for yourself.
This is my story. Tell me yours. We have to keep telling each other the stories that matter to us. It’s the only way to get by.
This is a picture of my wife Wendy near the table where she was making inspiration ribbons for the walk. Each one is inscribed with the name of someone with autism.
As a result of her efforts and the rest of our team, including many of you, Jay’s team raised over $7500 and counting this year (it’s not too late to give!).