Written by Amy Galloway
CHAPEL HILL NC, February 5, 2020 – Nick Nickerson, a Fathom Realty agent in Chapel Hill and life-long runner, recently crossed the finish line on his goal of running 3,000 miles to raise awareness and money for autism research.
For Nickerson, the cause is personal. His adult son, Adam, was diagnosed as a child with the developmental disorder.
“Our son at 30 still lives with us. It changed our entire life,” Nickerson said. “I didn’t want other people to struggle as we did. It (a child’s diagnosis) dramatically alters your life.”
Nickerson ran the last leg of his 3,000-mile journey on Jan. 12 — the day before his 74th birthday — on the steps of the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C.
Nickerson began his 3,000-mile trek on April 2, 2017. He chose April 2, he said, because it was designated by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness Day. While his initial idea was to run from coast to coast, he realized he was more likely to reach his goal if he ran the 3,000 miles closer to home, tallying the miles as he went. “I realized there was no way. I didn’t have the resources to run cross-country.”
Three days a week, he ran five to six miles, adding an eight-miler on the weekends. Slowly but surely, the miles started to add up. Though a health scare slowed him down for a bit, Nickerson kept going. “I slowed down, but I didn’t stop,” he said. “I was committed.”
Nickerson said he ended up raising nearly $10,000, all of which went to the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.
While the money was far less than he had hoped to raise, the money wasn’t his only goal. He said he remains determined to raise awareness of autism, which he said is often misunderstood or mischaracterized, and the challenges that families face when raising a child with autism.
“Autism changes the family dynamic. If I can help other families, I’ll die happy.”
You can learn more about Nickerson and his fight to bring more attention to autism research here.
You can also see Nickerson’s promotional video here: