This guest post is from Robin Beaudry, a member of our NJ Shore Walk Committee about her son CJ.
When I woke my 11 year old son CJ up for school on the morning of November 12th he was filled with excitement as this was going to be a very special day for him. CJ was going to be honored by the Toms River Township Council at their monthly meeting for his volunteer work and fundraising efforts for Autism Speaks.
CJ was the inspiration for Team Cracker Jack, our family’s New Jersey Shore Autism Walk team. He has been a key member of the team with helping to design a tee shirt for a fundraiser, recruiting team members, raising money, and promoting Autism Speaks and Autism Awareness.
This past summer CJ decided he wanted to run the 5K race with Team Cracker Jack at the Shore Walk so he started training with me and his father. CJ is not one to enjoy working out or running for that matter so this was a big deal and commitment. He also joined the intermediate school cross country team and stuck with it throughout the whole season which was a huge accomplishment in itself. Through social media and letting his teachers and former elementary school know about his upcoming endeavor more runners joined the TCJ run team.
By walk day CJ was the top run participant for fundraising he was able to collect $3080 in donations for Autism Speaks. He was so proud of himself and although the run was the furthest distance he had ever run before he finished the entire route. As I crossed the finish line with him I had tears in my eyes and a feeling of such pride – my son accomplished a goal he set for himself and brought so many more people out to experience what the NJ Shore Autism Walk Day is all about. This is a day our family looks forward to everyday and this made it even more special.
When I was contacted by Councilman Dr. Al Manforti regarding the council wanting to honor and recognized CJ I was shocked. CJ was so excited his favorite subject in school is history and government so he fully understood what the Mayor and Councilman’s jobs were and was so excited he was going to meet them. We arrived that evening and CJ was beaming he was taking everything in and sat in the front row waiting for them to call his name.
When we were called up to stand with the Mayor and council CJ was center stage and had a huge smile on his face as his proclamation and accolades about him were read to the audience. Councilman Manforti handed CJ the microphone after that and with pure excitement in his voice said “this is such an honor…thank you very much” he was like a natural up there with the politicians – a look into his future career maybe? CJ not only received a proclamation for all of his work for Autism Speaks but also for his volunteer work after Superstorm Sandy he worked in two collection sites and helped collect and wrap gifts for children who were affected by the storm.
As he stood for pictures afterwards with family my heart was filled with pride once again. I have learned somuch from being CJ’s mom it is not always easy but it is a job I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. CJ has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD but he is working hard every day to overcome the obstacles he faces daily. He is excelling at school with all A’s and B’s and is the sweetest, most caring, and considerate young man I know.
Proud mommy every day!!!