A Fulwood man is undertaking the challenge of a lifetime to raise money for charity after his son was diagnosed with autism.Advertisement
William Cowell, 34, will be taking part in The Montane Lakeland 100 in July – a gruelling 100 mile marathon across rugged terrain in the Lake District, which only 50% of competitors manage to complete.
To make the task even more challenging runners must navigate using only a map and reach the end of the course within 40 hours.
William is taking on the challenge in honour of his four-year-old son, who is also called William, in order to raise money for the National Autistic Society.
William said: “From being a baby my son hardly slept, failed to reach important milestones and was non-verbal until the age of four. After we received the diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) we felt lost as to what to do next.
“That’s when we contacted the National Autistic Society. As well as helping my family and I to access social and educational services, they gave us the essential emotional support we needed to adjust our expectations of how our family’s future would unfold.
“Although it is just me who is doing the running, my whole family is working hard to allow me the training time I need to be in with a chance of finishing the marathon. Knowing that I have their support and that of JustGiving donors will push me even harder to keep going.”
In addition to raising money for the charity, William wants to raise awareness of autism and increase society’s understanding of the challenges faced by children and adults on the autistic spectrum.
He said: “Autism is an incurable developmental condition which can have a huge impact on a family’s life. If an autistic person is having a ‘melt-down,’ it’s not bad behaviour and lack of discipline; that person is experiencing a complete sensory overload which can be terrifying for them.”
Some businesses have already made adjustments for their autistic customers. Preston supermarkets have autism-friendly, quiet shopping hours. Energi Trampoline Park holds a similar session and cinemas occasionally hold autism-friendly screenings.
There are also organisations like local charity OJ’s, who aim to provide activities for children with autism, learning difficulties and associated disorders.
William hopes awareness will continue to grow to help allow autistic children the same opportunities as their peers.
Read more: Morrisons launch ‘quieter hour’ at Preston Docks store
If you would like to donate to William’s fundraising, visit his JustGiving page.
Help and advice about ASD can be found on the National Autistic Society website.