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Light It Up Blue!

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael McMillen
  • 339th Recruiting Squadron
I've decided to run my first half-marathon. As race day approaches I become increasingly anxious. Not because I haven't been training or I don't feel prepared. In fact, I'm in the best physical condition that I've ever been in. I'm anxious because I will lose a part of my focus.

Initially my goal was to improve my Air Force Fitness Assessment score. I've made myself promises in the past and generally fall short by a few seconds or a few sit-ups. This year was going to be different. I was going to focus on something bigger than the Air Force fitness test. I was going to focus on running 13.1 miles in 10 short weeks. As I began the training regiment I realized that running long distances is a mentally daunting task. While running along a winding country road a few weeks ago it all clicked. I needed to run with a purpose.

I decided that day I had to dedicate this run to the one person who has done the most to change my outlook on life -- my eight-year old son, Andrew. Andrew was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. For those unfamiliar with Autism, it is a neurological disorder that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, affects one in 110 children in the United States. The numbers are worse among military children. According to ACT (Autism Care and Treatment) for Military Families, one out of 88 military children are affected.

In the past three weeks I've managed to raise $1,100 to help families who are affected by Autism. Here is where I'm losing my focus. I know that I can't continue to rely on my network of friends and family to continuously contribute financially to my cause. So where do I go from here?

April is Autism Awareness Month across the globe. You can help me maintain my focus in a few simple ways. First, use the search engine of your choice to learn more about Autism. Early detection is critical to development so learn the signs. An increase in awareness will lead to an increase in diagnosis and treatment.

There are several national organizations that do an outstanding job of explaining the signs and symptoms of this increasingly prevalent disorder. Do your best to learn what your co-workers, friends, or family members who are caring for a loved one on the Autism spectrum are dealing with. After all, one in 88 children on a military installation have been diagnosed. Last, join me in the "Light it up Blue" campaign on April 1st and 2nd. Buildings across the world, including the White House, will be decorated with blue lights to show support for the Autism community.