19 Dec 20081 Comment
Today at precisely 11:18 PST saw the fulfillment of a long held and ambitious dream. At that time, my nephew Jonathan Howard, having set out on March 25th of this year, persevered in his epic run and completed it by dipping his toe into the Pacific Ocean at Mile 0 of the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria BC. I’m still awaiting the photo, but at the bottom of this post you can see Jonathan dipping his toe into the Atlantic to kick of this run.
Our March posting first described his ambitious venture, Run The Dream, in which Jonathan and his team of volunteers sought to raise both awareness and a targeted $2.5 million for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Today, he completed that quest.
Congratulations to Jonathan on this remarkable accomplishment. His passion and commitment are remarkable and this is truly an examplar of the new generation of social entrepreneurism.
Please consider supporting his dream by donating at the Run The Dream website or perhaps attending a Gala fundraiser to be held on 25 March, 2009 in Toronto.
Below I’ve included a YouTube re-broadcast of the completion of Run The Dream and also re-posted the press release.
For Immediate Release
December 18, 2008
Cross-Country Run for Autism Completed Today in Victoria, BC
At 11:18 am PST today, Jonathan Howard dipped his toe into the Pacific Ocean at “Mile 0” of the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria to signify the completion of his cross-country run to create awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Jonathan, 25 years old from Mississauga, Ontario, departed from St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 25, 2008 on the first-ever cross-country run and event in support of Autism awareness.
Greeting him on the steps of the Provincial Legislature shortly after he reached “Mile 0” was the Honourable Tom Christensen, Minister of Children and Family Development in the Provincial Government Cabinet, who personally congratulated Jonathan and read a letter (copy attached) to Jonathan on behalf of the Premier of BC, the Honourable Gordon Campbell. The Premier said, “The public awareness that has been generated by this run is extraordinary.” He continued, “His efforts have already had a big impact and this journey has truly made a difference for people living with autism and their families.”
In addition, in a press release (attached) issued earlier today, the Honourable Steven Point
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia said, “We should all give back when and as often as we can and it is my privilege to congratulate Jonathan on the completion of his journey and thank him for his unwavering commitment to his cause.”
In response, Jonathan expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to everyone and said, “While the Run may be complete, the Dream continues. Early in 2009 I will be announcing my continuing efforts in support of Autism awareness. In the meantime, I would like to remind everyone that more needs to be done for individuals and families living with Autism, and if we can keep our focus on the objective, the obstacles will not become the issue.”
Jonathan undertook Run the Dream in order to raise awareness about ASD and raise funds in support of charities that work to assist children with ASD, their families, research, and public education. The increasing pervasiveness of ASD in Canadian lives is apparent from the statistics: almost 200,000 people in Canada have been diagnosed with an ASD and that number continues to grow dramatically, with 1 in 166 children being diagnosed.
On a day with very similar weather to the very unusual winter conditions that greeted Jonathan today in Victoria, he began his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 25, 2008, when he dipped his toe into the Atlantic Ocean. In the almost nine months that followed, Jonathan stopped in hundreds of communities across Canada, meeting families, schoolchildren, and political and community leaders, to spread his message of the need for a national healthcare strategy for Autism and the change that is required to provide support and services to the individuals and families affected. Jonathan notes: “Autism is a lifetime condition requiring a continuum of care and support. What we do for our children today will benefit generations to come.”
Jonathan sincerely appreciates all of the enthusiasm and support that he received along the way, especially from those individuals and families who deal with Autism every day, yet who found time in their otherwise heavily committed schedules to host local events, come out and meet him, and support him. Likewise, Jonathan is heartened by the many people from all walks of life, who, although they do not have direct connection to ASD, lent their efforts to the run and showed their concern and support for their fellow Canadians.
On a typical day, Jonathan ran an average of 40 km–the equivalent of a marathon per day. By the time he reached Victoria on December 18, 2008 Jonathan had run a total of 8,020 km across Canada in 199 running days (full details on the Run the Dream web site).
Bill Robertson, Chairman of Run the Dream said, “When Jonathan approached me fourteen months ago and asked if I’d be interested helping him organizing the run, his grit and determination to fulfill his commitment were immediately evident, notwithstanding the prospect of running through two Canadian winters. No amount of naysayers were going to dissuade him and I felt he deserved the best people that could be mustered to support him. In addition to the families and communities along the way, and our sponsors, I’d like to sincerely thank “the team” that helped make this all happen. We are very proud to have been part of this, but we’re glad that he did the running!”
Jonathan developed the campaign and dedicated a year of his life to the cause because of his experience with children during his high school and university days. Jonathan realized that additional public awareness was required to support families facing this serious health concern and to motivate the creation of a national strategy for Autism. At present there are regrettably only fragmented and inconsistent programs from province-to-province with substantial costs for care falling on the shoulders of parents.