Run the Dream Out of Town on a Rail
Here's a brief summary of what Run the Dream is about: A Canadian long-distance runner, Jonathan Howard, is running from Newfoundland to British Columbia to raise money for autism research and other purposes. He states on his website that the research he seeks to fund is "research into the treatment and, one day, cure, or prevention of Autism."
As far as I know, Howard has no personal experience with autism, other than having met a small number of autistic children while he worked as a summer camp counselor. Apparently he just wanted to get some publicity by running for a cause and picked autism more or less at random. His total ignorance of our community and culture hasn't stopped him from posting a web page entitled "Learn More about Autism," in which he suggests that the existence of autistic children is regrettable.
On May 9th, Canadian blogger jypsy, who had previously gotten no answer when she wrote to express her concerns about the intolerant language used on the Run the Dream website, received an e-mail from production manager Mike McCarther asking if she and her autistic sons would like to participate in a Run the Dream event. She politely declined, restating her concerns. This is the response she got (with the original profanity slightly edited):
From: "Mike McCarther"
Haha oh sh*t...
After receiving an e-mail from Alyric commenting on this offensive response, Run the Dream's chairman Bill Robertson made the bogus claim that it was all a misunderstanding and that McCarther had meant to write to someone else about an unrelated topic. Yeah, right, tell us another one... we may be autistic, but we weren't born yesterday!
More commentary can be found at Asperger Square 8 and at G's Place. To express your own views regarding this display of gross disrespect toward the autistic community, here are the e-mail addresses of Run the Dream's management:
Bill Robertson, Chairman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Pickard, General Manager, Beneficiary, Sponsor and Donor Relations: email@example.com
Alex Bittner, General Event Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Warren Howard, Operations Planning: email@example.com
Kevin Cassan, General Manager, Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike McCarther, Production Manager: email@example.com
This is what I have to say to everyone involved with Run the Dream: There is nothing funny-ha-ha about the idea that autistic people are human beings who deserve respect and social acceptance and who have just as much right to inhabit the earth as anyone else. Rather, that is just basic decency. We have had more than enough of genocidal bigots who "dream" of eugenically exterminating our children and who pretend that it would be an act of charity. Let me put it even more bluntly: You are not welcome in our community. Get your hat, your sh*t, and split. On a rail or otherwise.
Update, May 22: Run the Dream has removed the references to "prevention" and other objectionable language from its website. Many thanks to those who sent e-mails explaining our point of view!