The Eden Autism 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk is so much more than just a race — it’s an event that helps transform lives. Below, Stacie Sherman, an Eden mom and trustee, shares why she is participating in this year’s 5K.
My daughter Brielle Rae was born on a February afternoon in 2002. She was full term, 7 pounds 13 ounces, a healthy bundle of joy who instantly brightened my world.
Brielle sat up at six months, stood at 10 months. She walked before she was a year old, and soon after she even started saying a few words.
And then one day, I came home from work, and opened the door to find Brielle sitting on the living room floor. I called out to her, and she didn’t turn to me like she normally did. I got down on the floor, and I got in her face, and when she looked back at me, it was like she was looking, but not really seeing.
For many months to come, Brielle was in her own world. Her eyes seemed glazed, her movements slow and awkward. I’d find her sitting in a corner, fixated on a piece of string. She would sit there for an hour, passing the string from one hand to the other and then back again, over and over.
With a lot of experimental therapy, I was able to get Brielle out of that shell. Despite all the claims promising me that she would “recover,” she remains autistic, and always will be.
One of the best things I ever did for Brielle was get her out of the public school where they did not understand how to help her. In 2008 we found Eden and became part of their family.
Eden was founded in the 1970s by a group of parents who believed their autistic children could live happy and productive lives. Back then, many people with severe autism were dismissed and institutionalized. These parents knew that their children deserved better and deserved more.
Brielle is now 17 1/2. She is non-verbal, uses a program on her iPad to communicate. She is taller than me. She is super opinionated, demanding, exhausting at times. She will never be independent. But she is super smart. She is happiest when she is busy and productive. She can file, she can stack, she can set the table and clean up. She loves structure and school.
When she reaches the age of 21, her district-funded education will stop. We are beginning to work through the web of her future now.
After 21, Brielle will continue in Eden’s day program. We are still figuring out her future living situation and funding. My goal is to live to 150 so that I can always take care of her. But we all know that’s not going to happen.
Planning Brielle’s future is emotional and difficult. But it’s something I have to do. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have Eden to help me through the process.
Eden is a nationally recognized, Princeton-based organization that has helped countless families navigate the chaotic world of autism. I am proud to serve on their board and co-direct their annual 5K. This is Eden’s biggest fundraiser, it’s my way of giving back to a group that has done so much not only for my Brielle, but for so many others.
Will you help me make this year’s 5K a huge success? There are so many different ways you can help:
- Ask your company to sponsor the event, or to create a company team! It’s a great marketing opportunity for them.
- Join our team, Brielle’s Voice, or create your own! You can walk or run in the event, or just cheer us on in person or virtually.
- Share this post or your team posts. This is so important
- Follow Eden Autism on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and share their 5K posts.
- Volunteer on October 6! We need all the help we can get
- We need goody bag items! We hand out 1,000 goody bags. This is a great marketing opportunity for small and large businesses. If you have a couple hundred chapsticks, magnets, you name it, we want them.
- Lastly, you can donate. And while you’re at it, please check if your company will match your donation. Many companies do.
My goal is to raise $5,000, which my company will match. They’ll also give me an additional $5,000 for my volunteer hours with Eden. I have met my goal every year for as long as I can remember, raising more than $15,000 annually for this event. Please help me meet my goal this year!
You can register, sponsor, donate, join or create a team and sign up to volunteer at our website. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am grateful for each and every one of you.
I know there are a lot of causes out there. I contribute to many. Eden Autism is my main charity. They are well run, non-profit and transformational. I encourage you to support Eden.
Click here to donate to the Brielle’s Voice team.
To learn more about the Eden Autism 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk, visit edenautism5k.org.
Do you want to share your story with us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!