For father and son, autism awareness and running go hand in hand
WESTON — For the third year in a row, Larry Cruz and his son Ben will race up the stairs at Rockefeller Center in New York City this Sunday to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In addition to the experience of fundraising for a good cause, Larry considers it a blessing that Ben, who is on the autism spectrum, can help others in this way.
“We only run if it’s for a cause, because we want it to have meaning,” said Larry, a Weston resident. “It’s a great way to raise awareness and donations for multiple sclerosis research and services, as well as awareness about productive things that autistic individuals can do to help others.”
Since 2010, Ben, now 15 years old, has run alongside his father in roughly 12 races a year for various charities throughout the Northeast.
For the upcoming race, Larry and Ben set a $1,000 fundraising goal and have exceeded it by raising over $5,000 so far. The donations have come from family and friends, and with the help of the Weston community.
“Running is just something we do,” Larry said.
Sometimes for fun, Ben and Larry enjoy running through the woods in their neighborhood while listening to classic rock bands such as The Who, Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel and The Eagles, among others.
“I’m looking forward to it, yes,” said Ben, when his father asked about the upcoming event this weekend.
The Cruzes will join the many other teams in New York this Sunday at 6 a.m.
Thinking about the 1,215 stairs to the top of the Rockefeller Center would sound exhausting to many, but for serious runners Larry and Ben, this is a time to do it for a valuable cause.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, roughly 2.3 million people are affected by MS. However, this number could be higher, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require physicians to report new cases and symptoms can be invisible.
Reading about University of Connecticut alumna Leigh Kaplan’s battle with the disease inspired the Cruzes to get involved with the MS society.
Kaplan was diagnosed with MS while physical therapy graduate student, which made the Rockefeller climb much more challenging, according to a story on UConn’s website.
Currently, she has raised $20,510 for the upcoming event.
For information on more races that the Cruzes will be participating in, or to donate to their team, visit www.pushingpastautism.org/?fbclid=IwAR0dtysLILoCkGWIan59XvbD_NjYyQWhI_ZRoZHrHMrAV-ez_0AiGL8mpDE or https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?team_id=569395&fr_id=30155&pg=team