Miles Buddy was a bright yet quirky toddler. He took in information like a sponge but had trouble making eye contact and seemed to view his parents as just “objects to get his immediate needs met,” says his mother, Brooks Buddy of Asheville.
Miles was diagnosed with autism when he was just over 3 years old.
When he started preschool, his mother’s worries grew. “He wanted to interact with other children but didn’t know how. He would do things like touch other children’s hair.”
Buddy knew she needed to get help for Miles, but she didn’t know where to start.
Eight years later, she says she couldn’t have gotten through that time without the nonprofit Autism Society of North Carolina. “They were the only ones that were there for us to offer us help,” Brooks says.
In addition to providing direct services for individuals with autism, the Autism Society of North Carolina employs parent advocates in regional offices throughout the state to support families. Jean Alvarez, one of the Asheville-area parent advocates, helped Buddy find services in a system that she says is “like a foreign language.”
“She gave me the motivation to make the hundreds of phone calls I needed to make,” says Buddy, who now has three children and is a recreational therapist in a nursing home.
With Alvarez’s help, Buddy got Miles into applied behavior analysis funded by the state for a year. “I think that’s why he’s functional today,” she says.
Wanting to give back in some way, Buddy decided eight years ago to start participating in the Autism Society’s Western North Carolina Run/Walk for Autism, this year set for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 14.
The race is part of the Asheville Track Club Grand Prix Series and is USATF-certified. It includes a challenging 5k race, a 5k noncompetitive run and a recreational 1k run/walk. The event will also feature a family-friendly festival with a fun zone, refreshments and vendor space where businesses, service providers, local support resources and sponsors will be showcased.
Last year’s race raised more than $45,000 and had more than 500 runners and 150 volunteers. All funds raised provide support for the 60,000 people in North Carolina affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. — from the Autism Society of North Carolina
For more information on the race, visit wncrunwalkforautism.org or call 236-1547.