In a few minutes I leave for the annual IEP meeting to determine what helps our daughter will receive in the coming year. We recently moved so it is with a new district (we attend a Christian school so my rep is the same, but the services are provided by the district.)
These meetings are never easy because it’s easy to believe what we read on paper. Through the years what was in black and white gave little to no hope. Now we’re preparing for middle school years. She is in a regular classroom fighting to keep up. Her overcoming spirit inspires me.
This group has been such an encouragement in a short time. Our daughter’s issues for the most part are invisible (hypothyroidism, Albright’s, Hashimoto’s) and somehow I feel I have to fight extra hard for her, especially against the world who feels she should look a certain way or don’t understand how tired she gets. I am very aware there are millions of parents fighting harder than me. I also know what a lonely journey it can be.
A couple months ago my friend directed me to an organization called “I Run 4.” Runners of all skill levels are matched with a special needs child or adult and each time they work out, they dedicate that run to their “buddy.” They run for those who can’t. A special need is anything from having an IEP like we do to Down’s, autism, CP, etc…
Our daughter was matched with her runner quickly. Our runner is from the same area where my step son lives. She writes and has a great idea for a book. She is a Christian. It is the perfect match. She runs 6 times a week and tags me/our daughter on social media. Her posts are inspirational. I’ve watched our daughter reach out of her comfort zone because she knew someone was rooting for her and going the literal extra mile. I Run 4 has been amazing.
Our daughter even received a care package from her runner. She gave her the shirt from her last race, and it is a well known race in Madison. I gave our tween permission to take a selfie and put it on Instagram to show her runner. My step son saw the shirt and wondered how on Earth did his youngest sister get a race shirt from his city? And it was fun to share how this all came about. The care package came with other goodies and an encouraging note that our youngest is carrying with her.
I write all this because there are many runners who can’t wait to be matched and there aren’t enough buddies. The process is easy and I found it professional/legit. I have no regrets, except I wish I’d heard about this sooner. The need is so great that runners are waiting 7 months for their buddy. I waited two days to be matched. The need is that great.
If you know someone with a special needs diagnosis, I highly recommend they check “I Run 4” out. It changes everyone involved for the better.
We are living proof.
To learn more,