Sometimes the world of OCR can touch the lives of those who are not part of that world. This is the continuing story of my son Aaron and his journey towards a better world for himself and others. You may recall that Aaron is autistic. He has a dream to be a part of something big. Just like us. That’s what I love about OCR. Everyone is welcome. Everyone gets a shot.
Last year I started training Aaron in OCR. I invited him up on the mountain at Palmerton where he saw it all with his own eyes and heart. This year he is halfway to OCR. He runs cross country on his high school team. His progress is nothing short of phenomenal given the obstacles of autism he has to overcome.
He learned a lot from me on how to endure, overcome pain, and work hard. He can still do all his pullups and pushups. Now he is learning to run. Thanks to Natural Running coach Richard Diaz, I take everything I learn from him and apply it not only to myself, but especially to my son. Since he is a new runner without bad habits, I get to see him grasp and quickly apply critical running techniques like posture, lean, and foot strike. I watch him, correct him, video tape him, and critique him. He’s a sponge. Thank you Richard. One day Aaron will attend your clinic and I know you will not only be pleased, you’ll also help him shave another minute off his time. Aaron might not know it, but because of you, he is a runner. He has a big dream to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
Yesterday I met up with Brakken Kraker. He just tore up the Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Stadium Sprint with a blistering pace just over 24 minutes. After talking for a few minutes, it became easily apparent why he didn’t even break a sweat.
Besides being a super nice guy and super fast, we have a few things in common. I was curious why he ran CBP instead of Wintergreen. He told me he was an 800m runner in college, so he loves the speed. He said he would take a sprint like this over a mountain any time. I told him my son Aaron also runs the 800 in winter and spring track and currently runs cross country at high school. Then I mentioned that Aaron is autistic. That really made Brakken’s eyes light up. Turns out he is a special ed teacher. So he kindly offered to help Aaron in any way he could. That just made my day.
What I also did not know is that while I was having this conversation, my buddy behind me snapped a photo of me and Brakken. He IM’d it to me and I immediately forwarded it to my son. That was a real treat.
Perhaps one day Aaron will join me on the course. Right now he is not allowed. Coach’s rule. But he is getting plenty of run time on the open course, single track, hills, and flats. He’s learning his technique from the best OCR running coach Richard Diaz. He’s learning his body weight training skills from the OCRMudmaster. And soon, he’ll put it all together from the top elite OCR athlete, Brakken Kraker. This grateful dad thanks you all.