SAM ODROWSKI The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Uxbridge native, Austin Riley, is a trailblazer for autism and motorsports. He is one of the first people with autism in the world to hold a national race license and compete in a national road racing series.
Over the past few years, Austin has toured North America, Australia, and Bermuda to race go-karts and give presentations about his experience racing with autism.
Earlier this year he embarked on his fifth tour, visiting the United Kingdom.
Austin’s Dad, Jason Riley, said one of the main reasons they do the tour is to give hope to other families who deal with autism.
He said, “It’s mind-blowing for me to see the effect Austin’s story has had on other families, and it’s quite touching as well.”
Austin visited many schools during his time in the U.K, where he spoke to elementary school students about Racing With Autism.
During the tour, Austin and Jason gave a presentation to 500 school children at Southam College, and the response was overwhelming.
When Jason looked around at the end of their presentation the room was filled with 12 and 13 year olds crying their eyes out.
“Austin’s story really resonates with the kids, because when you’re in a school setting, because the vast majority of students are just trying to fit in, they’re trying to be one of the pack,” said Mr. Riley “So they feel like Austin does a lot, where they don’t belong, or don’t feel like they fit in.”
Jason continued, “After the presentation Austin received a standing ovation, the autograph line was an hour long, it was just insane, and the UK tour reinvigorated me.”
Austin’s Dad works hard setting up presentations, raising money for Racing With Autism, and working a full-time job.
He said, “The U.K tour really re-lit the fire for me. It really brought home why we’re doing what we’re doing.
And why all the effort we’re putting into it is so important.”
One of Austin’s favourite parts of the U.K tour was the standing ovation. He said it felt amazing to be recognized for his efforts.
Moving forward, Austin is gearing up for the 2018 Autism Awareness Tour, which will take him and his father across Canada. The tour starts in Victoria, B.C, on April 2nd, and ends in Charlotte Town P.E.I., on April 27th.
Jason has scheduled them to give at least one presentation each day, and they plan to bring Austin’s go-kart with them to get some racing in as well.
Austin and his Dad are excited, about the tour, and to share their story with more people.
Jason said, “We want to continue to raise awareness for Autism, and continue to grow the number of kids that are aware of Austin’s story.”
Adding that, “We want to inspire more kids with autism to, follow their dreams too, and make a difference in the world even if it’s a small one.”
He and his son are currently raising funds for the upcoming tour by selling puzzle piece decals to put onto Austin’s car. The cost to sponsor a puzzle piece is $50 and the piece will show the name of the person who purchased it.
“It’s a way to help Austin continue to race, and also a way to show the support he has behind him,” Jason said, “It makes him feel good and other people feel good, because they’re supporting a kid that’s helping other kids, and it all kind of goes full circle.”
Visit https://www.racingwithautism.com/ and go to the “Shop” section to find out more about sponsoring a puzzle piece or donating.
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