The long haul to raise awareness about autism

The every day struggles of autism don’t end when the fundraising walk for Autism Speaks does later this month.

The every day struggles of autism don’t end when the fundraising walk for Autism Speaks does later this month.

That’s why a trio of teenaged longboarders have decided to continue the fundraising efforts for months, maybe even years after, with a new fundraising event Race 4 Reason.

Sardis secondary students Erik Eccleston, Kyle Belcourt and Klayten Evanoff are planning to ride their longboards from Chilliwack to North Vancouver, from Nov. 5 to Nov. 7,  to raise funds for Autism Speaks.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of autism awareness in Chilliwack,” said 18-year-old Eccleston. “We have cancer awareness, diabetes awareness, but virtually nothing for autism.

“We’re doing this just to get the word out.”

The buddies got the idea while hanging out at The Truth skate shop in Vedder. Owners Melissa and Jason Flynn’s 11-year-old daughter Cypris has Asperger’s, a spectrum of autism. The family, along with co-owner Joel Hershey, are participating in Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Sept. 25, and are raising funds through their shop and through a partnership with Etnies.

Eccleston, Belcourt and Evanoff wanted to do more.

Evanoff came up with the idea for the ride, wanting to emulate an event similar to Push for the Cure, which is an annual fundraiser for breast cancer awareness that has longboarders and skateboarders riding from Hope to Vancouver, and has raised more than $900,000 in the six years since it was started.

This year the plan is to start small, just the three of them, “but if all goes well, we’re going to shoot for Push for the Cure numbers next year,” said Eccleston.

The longboarders haven’t yet defined an exact route, but plan to skate from Heritage Park in Chilliwack to 264th the first day, where they will camp for the night, and then to Cutter Island in North Vancouver the next day. Total kilometres, approximately 106.

Eccleston is aware of the challenge before them. Not only will it be the longest distance they have ever rode, they will also be facing unpredictable weather. With the event taking place in November, it could be sunny, raining, or snowing.

“I’m completely nervous; it’s definitely going to be a long skate,” he said, adding they’ve already been training for an hour to an hour and a half every day after school along the streets of Chilliwack.

“It will be very difficult.”

But nothing compared to what people with autism go through every day.

Eccleston’s life has been surrounded by autism. His cousin has autism. His best friend’s brother has autism. The Flynns’ daughter has autism.

“I’ve seen the every day life of people who are autistic and how hard it can be,” he said. “Even the simplest task can be a massive challenge for someone with autism.

“If it does snow [for the ride] maybe people will see that we are doing something very hard for a good cause, and maybe they’ll take a look at their own lives and compare it to those with autism.”

For more information, visit the Facebook page Race 4 Reason. To donate, visit The Truth skate shop on Lark Road.

Just Posted

Dying days for 25-bed mental health facility on Chilliwack/Abbotsford border

Closure of Mountain View criticized by NDP in opposition but hasn’t reversed Fraser Health decision

Chilliwack RCMP seek ID of man caught by bait car camera

Police say man is wanted for identity theft connected to incident downtown on Feb. 5

Chilliwack court to decide on allowing assistance dog to sit with sex assault witness

Yellow lab Caber helps calm people in crisis, in police interviews and in courthouse appearances

Chilliwack Special Olympics launches into spring season

Bocce ball, soccer, softball and golf highlight the offerings for 87-plus local athletes.

Rupert the Bunny sidelined due to deadly virus outbreak

Chilliwack’s famous therapy rabbit quarantined for his own safety, people not at risk

Local rock hound carves a 9-tonne granite grizzly bear

Chilliwack’s Paul McCarl’s about to complete a carving project 14 years in the making

Lower Mainland rabbits confirmed killed by highly-infectious virus

Feral colony on Annacis Island in Delta died from hemorrhagic disease. Pet rabbits could be at risk

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read