Action Jackson and his parents Alice and Chuck have raised thousands of dollars for KidsAbility over the past four years. KidsAbility provides services and supports to children and youth with special needs in our community.

For Alice, Chuck and their families, Jackson was a miracle child, born after many infertility cycles and treatments. At five months of age, while Alice was visiting her parents, Jackson became ill and was admitted to hospital. It was there that he suffered a stroke affecting the right side of his body.

For the months leading up to his first birthday, there were many support people visiting the family home in Erin as Jackson had to be taught how to feed and drink as the stroke had affected his tongue and mouth. Around the one year mark, the family was introduced to KidsAbility. For three years, almost weekly, Alice would take Jackson to KidsAbility and the organization became an invaluable resource to her family. The biggest transformation for Jackson was going from not walking and being told that he may never walk, to Jackson walking and even running.

The KidsAbility Superhero Run takes place Sunday, June 16, at Exhibition Park, and Jackson’s team — called Action Jackson — will be participating for the fifth year. “Action Jackson” is a nickname given to Jackson by his maternal uncle at age three since he was getting too old to be called Baby Jackson, which was the previous nickname given to Jackson by his cousin. The Action Jackson team is so grateful for the support of their family and friends. The family’s neighbours have held garage sales and raffles to help raise funds for the Superhero Run.

“Family and friends have always asked us how they can help with Jackson. I think the Superhero Run has become an avenue for them to support Jackson and other kids that need assistance. They’ve been very generous over the years as they’ve watched Jackson thrive with KidsAbility’s help,” says Alice.

“I wouldn’t have known what to do to help Jackson. I would have been lost without the support of KidsAbility. You see hope with KidsAbility.”

Over the years, Jackson has benefited from physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, and more through the organization.

The ACS (Augmentative Communication Services) team has helped him to communicate with others using technology. As well, Alice has received emotional support from the therapists and staff at KidsAbility. KidsAbility has provided tools that Alice can take and build on progress with Jackson.

Action Jackson and his team have a friendly competition with KidsAbility’s Senior Development Officer, Charmaine Brown. Each year they compete to see which family raises the most funds for KidsAbility.

This year the fundraising goal for the event is $80,000. Charmaine believes the generous community will come together and meet the target. Over $50,000 has been raised to date.

The event starts with onsite registration at 8 a.m. A five-kilometre run and wheelchair event takes place at 9 a.m., and a one-kilometre run/walk starts at 10 a.m. in Guelph.

But, it’s not just about the running or walking: The Superhero Run is a superhero-themed event, so people can expect to see Batman and his Batmobile, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and many other superheroes. Other activities will also be offered, such as a costume contest, face painting, bouncy castle, vendor booths and a superhero photo booth.

Action Jackson will be walking side-by-side with his family and one very special person, his grandfather. Jackson’s grandfather has MDS but despite his illness, he is a superhero who walks the one-kilometre walk every year.

“KidsAbility has helped so much,” Alice says.

“We don’t know what we’d do without KidsAbility.”

So grab your cape! Every child needs a superhero. You can register or sponsor a participant online at https://raceroster.com/events/2019/22422/guelph-superhero-run-for-kidsability.