Meet  Chase Bechtel. He is 15-years0old and a freshman at Centennial High School. He has moderate autism. Chase has a goal this year of walking the Country Music Half Marathon.  The journey began ten years ago when his mother, Angela, ran the marathon raising money for Chase’s consultants, tutors, and other professionals who address his special needs.  We sat down and talked with Angela about why the walk, training and how the money raised will help Chase and other teens.

WS: How did the walk for Widji come about?

Bechtel: Ten years ago, I ran the Country Music Half Marathon as a fundraiser to offset some of Chase’s intensive therapy costs  I called it The Race for Chase!

This year, A Walk for Widji was created as a way for Chase to “take the reigns” and personally support something that is dear to him: attending YMCA’s Camp Widjiwagan. This inclusive summer camp experience has been amazing and empowering for Chase as it allows him the opportunity to enjoy fun and challenging summer camp activities along side typical peers. This summer, Chase’s camp fees are roughly $3500 which is a lot of money to our family. Our hope is to offset some of our cost as well as donate at least half of our proceeds to Easter Seals, the organization that provides needed assistance to campers with disabilities at Camp Widjiwagan.

Despite his limited and uncertain understanding of “altruism,” I think it’s very important for Chase to serve others and the world as best he can. An event such as A Walk for Widji, where he combines a personal challenge (walking 13.1 miles) with altruism (fundraising for other children/sharing his donations), will be a step in that direction.

WS: For the Country Music Half Marathon, what is your training schedule?

Bechtel: Chase trains almost every day after school. He swims, walks, and works out.

WS: What do you want people to know about your son and his determination to complete this walk?

Bechtel:Sure, Chase’s autism has a significant impact on the person we see and know, but autism does not encompass or define his total identity.  Chase is a sweet, lovable guy with amazing potential, and it’s exciting to imagine what his future holds. He may not fully grasp the commitment he’s made to walk 13.1 miles, but we’ll be by his side to encourage him every step of the way. Maybe someone will hear about Chase’s walk and gain a whole new perspective about what a person with a disability is capable of accomplishing. That would be a wonderful bonus!

Thanks so much for sharing Chase’s story with us.  To watch Chase’s progress as he trains complete with videos, check out A Walk For Widji Facebook page and be sure to help Chase reach his goal on his Fundly page.

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