Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Mikey Brannigan

Autism Light #472 is Mikey Brannigan.

Michael “Mikey” Brannigan is a 23 year old runner from Huntington, New York  He is the first American with autism to win the gold in the 1500 meter race of the Paralympics. He is also the first runner with autism to competitively break four minutes in the mile. His goal is to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Tokyo. Mikey Brannigan is an Autism Light because he serves as an inspiration for others with autism as he achieves greatness in running and grows through his challenges in life.

Mikey Brannigan was diagnosed with autism at age 2. His parents Edie and Kevin Brannigan took him to a running club for kids with special needs called “Rolling Thunder”. He excelled in the club under the training of coach Steve Cuomo.

Mikey Brannigan graduated in 2015 from Northport High School in Huntington, New York. He was one of the top track athletes in the country in 2015 and received letters of interest from colleges throughout the United States. However, because of his learning disability he could not meet the academic requirements of the NCAA and did not attend college.The following is a biographical video of Mikey Brannigan from when he was awarded the High School Athlete of the. Month by Sports Illustrated.

When asked if his autism makes him a better runner, Mikey Brannigan said that it makes him “a better person.” Today Sonja Robinson coaches Mikey Brannigan and keeps him going toward his goal of qualifying for the 2024 Olympic in Tokyo (For more information see “Coach Sonja Robinson Keeps Mikey Brannigan On Track”). Mikey practices at the New York Athletic Club, who sponsors some of his travel expenses for events. The following is a video of the NBC news story about Mikey Brannigan winning the Gold Medal for the Paralympics in 2016. 

For more information on Mikey Brannigan read these stories and blog posts about his achievements.

Wikipedia: To find out more about Mikey Brannigan visit the Mikey Brannigan Wikipedia Page.

Social Media: You can follow Mikey Brannigan on the following social media areas. 

Special thanks to Mikey Brannigan for being an Autism Light. He serves as an inspiration to many families with autism and demonstrates how running can potentially help those with special needs to shine. We wish Mikey best of luck in training for the Olympics. We expect to hear great things from Mikey Brannigan in the years to come.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Nicole Webster

Autism Light #471 is Nicole Webster.

Nicole Webster is from Midland, Michigan. Her daughter Lillie has autism and a congenital disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome. A single autism mother, who herself has brain cancer, Nicole Webster is an Autism Light for being an outstanding and courageous parent who has helped thousands of people hold onto kindness.

Nicole Webster became famous in January 2018, when she and her daughter Lillie’s interactions were observed on a Detroit-bound airplane flight by a teacher Rebecca Somers. Lillie had a stuffed bear called ‘Kindness’ and in order to calm her on the stressful plane ride Nicole kept telling her daughter to ‘hold onto Kindness’. The simple beauty of that message was passed on over social media by Rebecca Sommer. It became a viral post shared over 200,000 times in January 2018, and it made #holdontokindness a popular twitter hashtag at the time.

This is an excerpt of what Rebecca Somers expressed on Facebook about her encounter with Nicole Webster,
I talked with the mom coming up the ramp off the plane and told her what a great job she’s doing with her daughter. She made several remarks, and I told her I knew it had to be tiring, but thanked her for being consistent (the teacher part of me came out). She then told me the little girl was going to have surgery on her legs to correct them. But then she also told me how she (the mom) is battling brain cancer and how exhausting her treatments are. My heart sank. I assured her that she would be in my continual thoughts and prayers and how she and her daughter taught everyone a lesson today: ‘Hold on to Kindness, you never know what another person is going through.’”
Nicole Webster’s story was passed on through Facebook and YouTube


 Here are some news articles and blogs on Nicole Webster and Lillie.

Special thanks to Nicole Webster for being an Autism Light. Her dedication and creative engagement as a single mother is extraordinary as she shines her light in the midst of her own journey with brain cancer. We wish Nicole all the best along with hope and healing from her cancer. May others come into Nicole and Lillie’s life to lend a helping hand to this special family. May we all hold onto Kindness in these difficult times and realize how others are going through more than we could ever imagine.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.