Earlier this month thousands participated in the 2015 Boston Marathon. Two years after the marathon bombing, many runners and spectators wore shirts or waved posters proclaiming "Boston Strong" and I had the opportunity to meet one participating family that is truly a beacon of strength.
Running is everything for the Schneiders of Great Neck, Long Island. Twins Alex and Jamie, 24 years old, are severely autistic; they don't speak, are easily agitated and need constant supervision. Ten years ago a family friend suggested the boys try running to release pent up energy. Turned out they were naturals. What it meant for their parents Robyn and Allan was a way to bring some normalcy and joy into everyday life. Running and training provided opportunities for socialization and relaxation.The Schneider twins have now run more than 150 races combined--including close to a dozen marathons. Their parents have also joined in; with Allan running along side Jamie in all of his races and Robyn training with both boys.
Raising severely autistic twins would be stressful and heartbreaking for any parents. But on top of managing the boys' constant care, the Schneiders have had to deal with serious illness. Allan was diagnosed with MS and Robyn breast cancer. Allan's MS is currently at bay and Robyn has been in remission for a few years. Yet how they've dealt with their own setbacks, cared for their boys and stayed positive -- and grateful -- through it all truly amazed me.
As a journalist I am fortunate to meet so many fascinating and inspiring people, but the Schneiders' story is one that I know will stick with me for awhile.
I should add, Robyn now has a book out about the family's journey: "Silent Running: Our Family's Journey to the Finish Line with Autism"