Tommy began running on August 2, 2006, at age 14, which was the day he first went for a jog with his dad, and his dog Matrix. Tommy was only able to jog a few hundred meters before needing to walk. After jogging daily, he soon completed some local 5 k road races.
By March 2008, he had many high school track and field, and cross country races under his belt, and his times were getting fast! AT this time, he began training with the local Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club.
Joining this club and community of runners has been life changing for Tommy. They have embraced Tommy and supported him, including him and accomodating his many challenges. There have been so many people who have made Tommy feel so welcome, and helped him on his journey.
Here is a recent post from Tommy’s Facebook Page:
On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Tommy ran a 5000m race at the dome indoor track with his Ottawa Lions friends. But that is not really the point of this video.
This video is really about the many amazing friends at the track who hang out with Tommy, making it a warm, friendly place where Tommy is just one of the gang What more could you want in life?
Yes, it’s a fact. Ottawa Lions friends are cool.
Feb 8, 2014:
Tommy has so many great friends at the track, who also train with the Ottawa Lions. It’s a place where Tommy is just one of the guys, and part of a terrific community of athletes who support one another.
Sometimes he gets a chance to race, and those friends race with him On this day, Jay Sneddon, Tommy’s friend who is mildly on the Autism spectrum, and Jared Broughton, Tommy’s friend who is visually impaired, raced with him. Jared, Jay, is so great for Tommy to have good friends like you guys at the track Thanks!
Tommy is more of a long distance/ endurance guy- but speed on the track is something he works hard on. He is working on his start, and coping with race strategy, which has always been challenging for him. And staying positive when things don’t always go the way you hoped. Cause you can’t always be the First Fastest Runner in the World. Some days it is another runner’s turn. But you can always try to be a good sport. Just like in life.
After this race, Tommy stayed positive, and also said the kinds of things a parent is always glad to hear…”I’m glad you’re here, Mom. I’m glad you’re here, Dad.”
We are glad you are here, too, Tommy!
Feb 1, 2014:
Tommy is in the basement, warming up on his treadmill, getting ready for a 1500m race at the indoor track later this afternoon.
Here in Ottawa, Canada, we are just beginning another snow storm today, so we are lucky to have an indoor track for runners like Tommy, for training, and races.
Tommy truly looks forward to these races, and loves to be part of the Ottawa Lions, where he is embraced and included with all his fellow athletes. But, as anyone who knows Tommy well understands, he also finds the races very challenging.
When you have Autism, managing the complicated scenario of a track race can be overwhelming. Tommy does his best to keep smiling and staying positive, while working out all the complex challenges of a track race. Luckily, his caring friends at the track are his best supporters.
Thanks to everyone, past and present, who have been kind to Tommy, cheered for him, and helped him on his very unique journey. We are grateful to everyone for being his friend.
As Tommy’s mom, I will be there today with my camera in hand, cheering for him, and believing in him. And, of course, Tommy’s dad will be there, as his most loyal and dedicated supporter. Motivating and guiding him from the sidelines, and giving a hug and kind word at the finish. Being a best friend, and a dad, and coach, all in one.
Tommy’s dreams are the dreams of everyone. He is no different, in this sense, than any other athlete racing today.
After all, someday, he’s going to be the First Fastest Runner in the World
Or, at least, the first smiliest, and first most inspiring 🙂