Results, photos from Race for Autism 2013 at Balboa Park

Here we see the 5K runners off their marks and dashing down the straightaway to traverse the 3.1 mile course at the  9th annual San Diego Race for Autism held Saturday, March 30, 2013 at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. All photos: Jim Wyatt

Here we see the 5K runners off their marks and dashing down the straightaway to traverse the 3.1 mile course at the 9th annual San Diego Race for Autism held Saturday, March 30, 2013 at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. All photos: Jim Wyatt

Autism has become one of the most prevalent childhood disorders of our day and the numbers keep getting worse. A child with autism may babble or know certain words, but not understand how to use gestures or language as a means of interacting with others. They often have repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests, as well as sensitivities to touch, taste, sounds, smells and visual stimuli.


Consequently, they can make everyday activities stressful and coping with this monotony can drive a parent up the wall. Unlike the boxer who can climb in and out of the ring, the parents of an autistic child are in that ring every minute, every hour of every day. 

The light at the end of the long tunnel is the fact that their child can improve, often significantly, with the proper treatment. However, effective autism programs and services are not readily available. That’s when organizations, like NFAR (the National Foundation for Autism Research), have come to the rescue. With the community’s support, they’ve been able to fund the research, development and expansion of treatment programs.

Saturday was NFAR’s ninth annual San Diego Race for Autism with all proceeds going to support local programs.

Generalizing about the members of this afflicted group is difficult. Ask 100 different parents of children with autism, and you’ll likely get 100 different descriptions of the condition, its challenges and its causes.

On Saturday, 6,000 wonderful people came out in force to support this event with its early morning 5K Chip-Timed run followed by the mile run or walk through Balboa Park. From the event’s corporate and private sponsors to the many volunteers, from the serious competitor to the non-athlete with their legions of friends and family to cheer them on, it was a glorious morning, a Love-fest of sorts.

TOP FIVE MALE FINISHERS: Daniel Farmer (age group 25-29) had a time of 16:14.5, Matthew Seat (20-24) 16:25.4, Santiago Quintana (15-19) 17:02.3, Juan Mendoza Sr. (35-39) 17:22.9 and Bryan Johnson (15-19)17:33.9.

TOP FIVE FEMALE FINISHERS: Lesley Hawley (age group 30-34) came in first for the ladies with a time of 18:55.4, #17 overall. Her nearest female rival, Zohreh Akhavan (25-29) finished second, #41 overall, with a time of 21:16.7. Marcella Teran (55-59) finished third, #43 overall with a time of 21:23.8, Joey Anderson (25-29) finished fourth, #52 overall, with a time of 21:52.2 and Kayleigh O’Neal (age 1-14) finished fifth, #63 overall, with a time of 22:28.9.

Look closely at the faces in the following photos – each had their reason for getting up so early on Saturday and each had a reason for being so supportive of this great cause. All photos of the contestants in the race are in the correct order of their finish. With Daniel Farmer crossing the finish line first, he became the overall champion. Even though Lesley Hawley finished #17 in the race, she was the first female to cross the finish line.

One photo shows the Resource Fair featuring it’s 50 plus booths set up to explain the current programs and services dealing with Autism. Another shows a little tyke beating his adult counterpart to the finish line. Another shows a pregnant woman competing while another has the non-athlete showing his true grit and completing the 5K run.

Every once in awhile, the event’s announcer/Master of Ceremonies, Jon Lash, would keep the crowd amused by interjecting witty remarks. For those who chose to walk the course at a leisurely pace he said, “You could at least sprint the last 10 yards and pretend you’re exhausted.” 

Then he asked, “Would you do it again?”

“Yes!” came one muffled response.

“Right now?” was Lash’s follow-up question. “Come-on,” he insisted, “this has to be a whole lot better than playing with your X-Box.”

“No, it isn’t,” said the youngster with fat thumbs.

Along with the Easter Bunny, Wonder Woman and Superman, there was a man representing the Wound Warriors foundation. He carried an American flag with him the entire distance.

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