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5K color run planned for challenged athletes

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 23, 2014 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.

Ten-year-old Parker Jackson has a special relationship with his mother, who home-schools her son. Parker is autistic and faces unique challenges like other challenged children who want to participate in athletics. Parker is extremely affectionate and finds comfort in a soft touch of his mother's hair or a quick whisper.

Keeping her son active has been Blake-Leigh Jackson's objective since he was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

"It helps with his fine and gross motor skills," Jackson, 43, said.

In between dribbles on the basketball court, Parker Jackson, 10, stopped by the sidelines to give his mother a kiss on the cheek.

"It's comfort to him," Jackson said. "Especially in loud settings, he seeks it out more."

The services and facilities available to Parker in Victoria have been a blessing to her family, Jackson said.

On Saturday, the Victoria East High School soccer booster club is hosting Color Me Courageous, a 5K fun run and walk benefiting the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex at Riverside Park.

The complex is one of several local resources Parker uses to stay healthy, his mother said.

"The disabled sports are so important," Jackson said. "It's important that we serve a part of the community rarely seen in that sort of environment."

Lanell Mantey, a Victoria East soccer mom and an event organizer, said the complex will also celebrate the opening of a new field with a ribbon-cutting the same day.

"It's always exciting as a parent to see your children get involved with the community," Mantey said. "It's our job as parents to teach our children how to give back."

Runners will have powdered paint thrown at them during the event, Mantey said.

"And, of course, Gary Moses is going to be there," Mantey said. "We'll announce the winners of the race afterward as well."

Since Parker has gotten involved in a myriad of sports, Jackson said she has noticed an improved sense of confidence, better attention to detail and an overall spike in happiness in her son.

"People should never take their health for granted," Jackson said.

Parker participates in Cub Scouts, gymnastics, ballet, golf, basketball, soccer, baseball and kickball.

He has also been a member of the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex for the last five years, Jackson said.



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