My name is Judy DeLeon and I will be running the 2020 Boston Marathon for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. This will be my third time running for Dougie's team and every time I run for this special charity, there's always been a reason that's near and dear to my heart to run. I have three children, two of whom are diagnosed with Autism and my youngest is waiting to be evaluated. Running has always been a way for me to gain strength in order to take on what life throws at me. Recently, life has thrown a life-changing experience my way which made for my strength and my reason for running the 2020 Boston marathon.
Tragically on August 16, 2019, my oldest son Nathan went outside on his bike on this warm summer day. Just like any other day, Nathan rode his bike around my condo complex looking for kids to hang with. Nathan loved being outside and enjoyed listening to music while on his bike. Unfortunately, Nathan was hit by a car and flown to Floating Hosptial for Children at Tufts Medical Center. I remember feeling frozen to the ground when I received the call from the police officer who was on the scene. I remember walking into the hospital to what seemed to be one horrible news after another. Nathan sustained multiple head traumas and did not survive his injuries. After fighting for his life for many days, he was pronounced brain dead on August 22, 2019. This has been the most painful and traumatic experience for me and my family. I remember sitting next to Nathan's bedside thinking, "Oh my god, I'm never going to see my son again!"
I would like to remember my son how he lived rather than how he died. He was a 12-year-old amazing kid and his Autism made him unique and ways that made him so memorable. Nathan was one of a kind.
Nathan enjoyed music and making sound beats with his father in our basement. It was their time to bond. I bonded with Nathan by dancing in the car on the way to the mall. He loved the mall and enjoyed playing music loudly in my car which drove me nuts but I knew it made him happy. Nathan enjoyed playing pranks on his father and me and then would record our reaction and post the videos on youtube. "I'm going to be famous he used to say." I loved his optimism and I would reassure him that he would become famous in some other way other than Youtube videos. He adored his family. He loved his baby brother Nicholas and would often bother his sister Annalie; however, I knew he loved her in his own brotherly way. Nathan loved this world and thought every day was an adventure. Nathan wanted nothing more than to be accepted and have friendships. Nathan made some nice friendships during his 12 short years and I'm grateful for those children without Autism who accepted him for who he was.
I will look to my son in heaven when training for Boston 2020. Running has always been my peace and a way for me to gather my thoughts. When I run, I always think of Nathan. "Why are you always running mama", he would say. I would respond, " to keep up with you." "What if you become tired?" "Then you keep going and you never give up Nathan." Nathan had 12 years of unconditional love from all of us.
On August 23, 2019, Nathan became famous just like he predicted. Nathan went on to donate 4 healthy organs to 4 recipients. Nathan saved an 8-year-old girl who received his heart. Two females in their 30's received his kidneys and a man in his 60's received his liver. I have always been so proud of Nathan and donating his organs gave me one last reason to be proud of him. Nathan is a hero and he is famous in the eyes of those that he saved.
#Live Like Nathan went viral on social media after his passing because this world was so amazing to him and he made it just as amazing. Appreciate every moment because life is precious.
As a parent of children with special needs, Autism is a life-changing experience. It will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate everything your child does. I will always be a mother of three; except I have a special boy in heaven. Nathan was an amazing child and he will never be forgotten. I run for my angel in heaven now. My biggest supporter. Please support me in running the 2020 Boston Marathon in Nathan's name as well as other children with Autism. Nathan was the happiest kid and because of Foundatioins like the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation, Nathan had supportive services that helped him be the amazing, and intelligent kid that he was today. Nathan was just so likable because of his educators, family, and friends allowed Nathan to be himself. Being different is an amazing thing and his qualities were embraced by many. I will forever Live Like Nathan! Please help me get to the start of the 2020 Boston Marathon by donating today to Dougie's team and supporting other children like Nathan to reach their potential. Thank you!
The Flutie Foundation is proud to participate in the Boston Athletic Association’s Official Charity Program.