By Jeremiah Finaly
On Saturday, after weeks of rain, gusty wind, and snow, Team Peer 1 on 1 joined thousands of runners to participate in the 2023 Run Seal Beach.
Team Peer 1 on 1 was comprised of 20 members including special needs youth, teen volunteers and parents. As the starting time approached, the team lined up at the starting line. The sound of a horn signaled the start of the race. It also marked Peer 1 on 1’s first ever participation in Run Seal Beach.
Each special needs youth was paired with a teen volunteer. As the team took off, their strides were strong and purposeful. The route was well-marked and lined with enthusiastic supporters, who cheered on the runners and offered words of encouragement.
As the runners made their way through the route, they were accompanied by upbeat music and the sounds of cheering and clapping. At the finish line, the runners were greeted with cheers and applause, as well as medals. The sense of accomplishment and pride was palpable.
For some of the participants, completing the run was a personal testament to their physical strength. For others, it was an opportunity to spend time with friends and family and to be a part of a community event. For Team Peer 1 on 1, it is not just in terms of promoting physical fitness and wellness, but also in raising awareness about autism and promoting a culture of inclusion and acceptance. It was a reminder that special needs youth are capable of achieving great things with the right support and encouragement.
As the team left the race, they carried with them memories of a fun and rewarding experience, as well as a renewed sense of confidence and self-esteem. The 5K run was a shining example of what can be achieved when we come together as a community to support and empower one another. (Special thanks to Mr. Rollin White and Ms. Michelle Samuelson at Run Seal Beach)
Peer 1 on 1 is a non-profit organization that provides social inclusion for youth on the autism spectrum and other developmental disorders. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremiah Finaly is the Seal Beach Branch President of Peer 1 on 1, and a Junior at Los Al High