Thursday, June 22, 2006

Running for a reason - Charlottetown Guardian

Charlottetown Guardian

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alex Bain, 18, of Oyster Bed will run Prince Edward Island from tip-to-tip this July to raise awareness and acceptance of autism. He will be the first autistic person to do this. Here, he’s pictured with his mother Janet Norman-Bain, who will accompany him on the trip.(GUARDIAN PHOTO BY HEATHER TAWEEL)

Running for a reason

On July 2, Alex Bain will set out from North Cape on a tip-to-tip Island trek that he hopes will raise awareness of autism and fundraise $6,000.

By Caitlin McIntyre
The Guardian

Alex Bain doesn’t want to find a cure for his autism.

Rather, Bain, an 18-year-old Oyster Bed resident, says autism is not something to be ashamed of.

On July 2, he will leave North Cape in a bid to be the first autistic person to run the Island tip-to-tip.

But instead of running to find a cure for the disease, the focus of many autism runs, Bain wants to raise awareness of it, says his mother, Janet Norman-Bain. As well, he hopes to fundraise $6,000 or $20/km for the nearly 300-km trek from North Cape to East Point, to bring Dennis Debbaudt to Prince Edward Island this September for a series of seminars.

Debbaudt, a Florida-based professional investigator and father of a 22-year-old autistic son, educates law enforcement, medical and first respondent personnel on how to recognize and respond to autistic persons.

Bain’s mother will join him on the trip, following him on her bicycle. In a recent interview with The Guardian, she said the public must understand that autism doesn’t have to be a devastating, life-ruining burden.

“Autism is getting a lot of bad press these days. Autism is made out to be a horrible monster and a family-wrecking horror, but it isn’t,” said Norman-Bain, who was interviewed on behalf of her son.

This is the message she and her son hope to send as they raise autistic awareness. Autism is a neurological disease classified as a developmental disability.

Bain is running for a good cause, considering there are many misconceptions and preconceptions concerning the disease, said Paul Wright, a member of the P.E.I. Roadrunners Club. It’s important to educate the public and help them understand the challenges people with autism face, he said.

“He’s running for autism, not against it. I think it’s wonderful,” Wright said.

Bain, who was diagnosed with autism at age three, has spent nearly every day training for the run. An impressive athlete, he participates in a road race most weekends as a member of the Roadrunners. In 2004, he was named the Roadrunners’ Patterson Palmer Rookie of the Year.

And although he didn’t learn to speak until age six, he graduated from Bluefield high school last year with honours, receiving top prizes in math and English.

With his myriad of accomplishments, Bain has been an inspiration for many in his community, his mother said. Many of his successes in life can be attributed to his family and friends, who were never condescending towards him, she added.

She said her son’s accomplishments prove autism doesn’t have to be a hindrance.
She hopes his success story will help dissolve stereotypes people may have of autistic persons’ intellectual or physical capabilities.

“Especially for parents of newly diagnosed kids or people who have yet to have diagnosed kids, they need to know it’s not a family-wrecking plague,” Norman-Bain said. “All autistic kids will improve, and some will do phenomenally well.”

Thus far, her website,, promoting her son’s run has received visitors from China, Argentina Poland, Saudi Arabia, and India. Clearly, word is spreading in the autistic community, she said.

Gary Craswell, a longtime member of the Roadrunners Club, said Bain has a great support system, and that will help him meet the challenges of his tip-to-tip run.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger Autism Diva said...

Hey, Nice shirts!

Even better, coverage of Alex's upcoming run!

At 5:33 PM, Blogger notmercury said...

Awesome! Go Alex.


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