About Operation Jack

Operation Jack started as an attempt I made to race at least one marathon a week in 2010 (61 total for the year, plus two ultramarathons) to generate attention to raise funds and nationwide awareness for Train 4 Autism, an organization that works tirelessly to raise money for Autism charities.

The initial mission was successful — I ran the 61 marathons with a median time of 3:21, raised more than $90,000 and had a role in the creation of seven new Train 4 Autism chapters.

But I decided that was only the beginning. As I wrote in April 2011, Operation Jack is my never-ending quest to help causes in need, one charitable act at a time. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. But I have faith I’ll get it done. That’s what Operation Jack is.

Along with my wife of 14 years, Tiffany, I’m raising three children — Benjamin (12), Jack (10) and Ava (8). Jack, born September 16, 2003, was diagnosed with autism shortly after he turned 3, although he has been in constant therapy and treatment since before his second birthday. He is showing signs of progress, but has very limited speech and struggles with communication and social interaction.

After watching my son struggle day after day with his condition, I decided I wanted to do something to make a difference in his honor. My plan was Operation Jack. I figured I wouldn’t have done it if not for my son’s autism, so everything that has been and will be accomplished is an impact Jack makes on the world. Jack’s footprint will grow over the years as long-term gains come to fruition. To date, through the Operation Jack Autism Foundation, we’ve grossed more than $235,000.

Completing a difficult challenge is nothing new for me, though. After breaking my neck in a swimming-pool accident when I was 16, I was lucky to have use of my legs. Later, after taking terrible care of myself in college, my weight soared to 261 pounds. I’m a former smoker and started in walking in late 2004. Walking turned into slow jogging, and eventually, slow jogging turned into my first marathon.

Through December 2013, I’ve completed 107 marathons and five ultramarathons. I have 27 Boston qualifiers and a personal-best time of 2:57:53. As tough as Operation Jack was in 2010, though, it’s nothing compared to the daily grind Jack suffers through as he battles with autism, the neurological disorder affecting 1 in 88 children nationwide.

Like Jack, I will always fight autism.

8 Comments

  1. I just registered for the full marathon and i’ll need some sponsors

    Reply
  2. I was wanting to become a sponsor, but your contact form isn’t working and I haven’t seen another way to get ahold of you guys other than a comment, so if you could email me so I can ask some questions that’d be great. :)

    Reply
  3. Great to meet you! I am so totally inspired by your video.
    I look forward to providing all the help I possibly can.
    I will send the listings to consider separately.

    Thanks, Geoff Wilkinson, Keller Williams Real Estate

    Reply
  4. I am a fellow runner with a child who has autism too. My son is 12. We homeschool him now as the public school was no longer meeting his(or mine) educational goals. I loved your elf stim pics, yeah, seen those lines of items before all over my floor and I’ve seen more misc video clips of the latest interest repeatedly that even I can recite them! I hope to run one of your Operation Jack runs this year but on the runs I do locally, can I run for Operation Jack? Got a shirt I can buy or one of those Operation Jack metals on the ball chain?
    Not looking for entry fee swap or anything, just a mom wearing something that she stands behind when she races, gets the word out, etc.
    ~thanks Sam!

    Reply
  5. Hi

    You have inspired me to run 12 marathons over the next 12 months in Australia- I am running for early intervention and fundraising along the way. My son got diagnosed when he was 20 months of age and has been doing speech therapy, OT, RDI and ABA ever since. He is now 3 1/2. In Australia parents have to pay for the bulk of their children’s therapy and as you know this can place a huge strain of families. I would love to become an Australian Ambassador to your cause. I will running for “run4autism.net”
    Running has allowed me to remain centered, focused and provided me with the strength I need to deal with everyday occurrences. Maybe one day we will go for a run together. You are a true champion and my inspiration.
    Cheers
    Travis

    Reply
  6. Amazing! What a great mission to have. I know that your ability to rise above difficult challenges in life are a testament to Jack. My grandson, David is similar to Jack, he does not speak, and he wears pull ups. (he is partially potty trained). He cries a lot. I always wonder if he cries because no one understands? Does he feel alone? To love him is such joy….and my heart contracts with fear at his vulnerability in this world. To imagine our lives without him, though, would be like living without the sun.

    Reply

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