i apologize for going MIA the past month or two. between the holidays approaching and really, life in general, i neglected my newly born blog. but, i am back!
for those of you who may not know, during the fall chase, a young high school student from corcoran high school (here in syracuse, new york), was assaulted by an older male while away at a cross-country meet. in and of itself this would be sad but, it is the details of this event that truly make it heartbreaking.
chase is autistic.
as the reports showed, chase got lost... separated from the pack... as he was doing what he loves to do - running. standing on the side of the road, a man approached him, knocking him to the ground, stating he felt he would try to "mug his wife" (who conveniently was seated. in their car). this man noted that chase was unresponsive and, due to some youths breaking into his car before, he felt the need to shove the 15 year old to the ground.
he quit the cross-country team immediately after the race.
in too many cases that would be the end of the story - a heartbreaking conclusion with no meaningful resolution. but, the syracuse community was not having it. a few weeks after the incident, corcoran high school hosted a "fun run" to honor chase, raise awareness about autism and hopefully, encourage chase to run again.
i wish i could accurately describe the energy, the love that buzzed around the stadium that day, hundreds of people of all ages gathered around, hugging and laughing - gathering because it was simply the right thing to do. there were teeshirts, banners, a drum line, good food, high fives, sunshine literally so bright and warm it really felt like god himself was enveloping you...
and chase! he came! he ran. he conquered.
overall it was one of the most amazing, fulfilling, heartwarming things i have ever seen + photographed. half of the time i was hiding my wet eyes behind my camera - i was truly overwhelmed by this syracuse community and how we rallied together to right a serious wrong.
i hope that chase runs again. i hope that we don't forget about autism and prejudice long after this headline has faded away. i hope that we as a community continue to be big and brave, supportive, idealistic and full of love and compassion.