BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (July 8, 2016) – If running a 10-kilometer race seems daunting, then stretching it to 50-kilometers would be out of the question. Not for Dr. Joshua Diehl, Chief Strategy Officer for Autism Services at LOGAN.
Diehl plans to run, ride and hopefully bicycle 50-kilometers to raise $50,000 for the kids who receive services at LOGAN’s new Southwest Michigan Autism Learning Center. He’ll do it, if he has to, wearing a tutu and eating bratwursts.
He’ll do just about anything, he says, for the kids.
Diehl’s run, also known as #FTK (For the kids), will begin early in the morning of August 6, 2016 in Berrien County at the construction site of the new center, and end at the start/finish line of LOGAN’s Run on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The 50-kilometer distance equals 31 miles, which is 4.8 miles farther than a marathon run. And no, he hasn’t run a marathon before.
The run will kick off a $1.5 million building campaign to cover the costs of buying and renovating the former Stump School in Benton Harbor to turn it into LOGAN’s newest Autism Learning Center.
“We need a new home,” Diehl explained. The caseload for LOGAN Autism Services in Berrien County has ballooned from only four children initially to more than 70 today, with a long waiting list. “We hate waiting lists,” Diehl said. “There’s a great need for services, and we want to provide them.”
LOGAN, a disability services provider based in South Bend, Indiana, began offering home-based autism services to a few families in Berrien County in 2007. Six years later, the agency opened the county’s first center-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, in partnership with First Congregational Church in St. Joseph, Michigan. The church continues as the learning center site, but moving to a different, larger location means more families will be able to receive vital services. Stump School in neighboring Benton Harbor, vacant for several years, provided the ideal space.
“What better place to realize our vision of helping children with autism transition from our services to school and the community than a former school?” Diehl asked. “At the same time, we’ll be investing in urban renewal.”
Already, Diehl’s #FTK campaign has raised more than $16,000, with four more weeks to go. Donations may be made online at Crowdrise.com/ftk-50k/
He’s giving donors creative ways to add to (or detract from) his running experience. Donation totals determine whether he gets to snack along the way, hitch a ride in a car, listen to music or substitute a biking kilometer for a running kilometer. Just-for-fun rewards include making him wear a tutu or, gasp, a Michigan jersey as he crosses the finish line.
Running 50 kilometers will be challenging, Diehl knows, but no more so than living every day with autism. “We see the need for services for autism as a moral imperative,” he said. “And we’re all in … for the kids.”
Since 1950, LOGAN has reached out to friends and families with help and hope through advocacy, resources and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization invites people in our community to join in this mission by opening their doors and their hearts to Discover the Potential in all of us. LOGAN Autism Learning Centers have been established in St. Joseph and Kalamazoo Michigan, Logansport, Indiana, South Bend and Granger, Indiana. The Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at LOGAN on Jefferson Boulevard in South Bend serves as the hub for all existing and new LOGAN Autism Learning Centers in Michigan and Indiana. For more information, visit www.LoganCenter.org.
Director of Marketing & Communications, LOGAN