Editor’s note: Being a part of the cross country and track team has been a highlight of Dillan’s high school experience. Dillan received a special recognition at the end-of-season banquet and would like to share this in order to show that it is possible to be an equal and valuable member of a class or team. We thank his incredible coaches and teammates for a wonderful season, and for their ability to see beyond the deceiving exterior that autism can present.
Coach Nance presented this award (we were all very moved by her touching words):
“This award, Most Inspirational, goes to truly one of the most inspirational runners I’ve ever coached. Their attitude and smile convey more than words can express about how much they enjoy running and being on the team. They never miss a school practice or complain that it is too hot, they show up on Saturday mornings whenever possible to be right up there running with the pack, and are always ready to go. What’s most inspirational about this runner is the attitude that consistently shouts, “ALWAYS A GOOD DAY WHEN I GET TO RUN.” Some may think this runner has a disability, but that is not the case. This runner has been given a gift; an ABILITY! An ability to feel what most will never, an ability to remain positive and confident, the ability to listen, observe and not judge. The ability to speak from the heart with wise intent, the ability to be a true runner, and the ability to inspire with their perseverance and determination to be understood and seen! The Most Inspirational is…”
Dillan’s acceptance speech:
“Being part of a team of dedicated runners only makes one better. This season every run I have done has been hard, but not in a bad way. Wanting a faster pace and time is a goal each of us works to achieve. In my early days of running I was often alone. Running was a way for me to get my body in a calm quiet place. The way I run now almost seems like a dream. Now I run for myself, not just for the autistic me, but for the runner in me. In other words, I enjoy it to the point of doing nothing else sometimes. I so understand that urge to always want to get to the top of that hill or to the end of that mile. And to be able to do that with a team that also runs with similar hopes and dreams is what I always wanted. Now, I look forward to many more long runs out there. Go Canoga and thank you!”