Principal Pushes 5th Grader With Autism In 5K Race

The 5th grader's twin brother also ran alongside him.

A New Jersey principal ran more than three miles while pushing one of his students with autism in an effort to promote inclusion.

Vincent Myers, the principal at West End Memorial Elementary in Woodbury, is an avid runner. 

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Recently, while he was looking for another race to sign up for, Ainsley's Angels, a non-profit that helps children of all abilities compete in races, asked him if he knew anyone he’d like to push in a 5k race that the organization was hosting.  

Myers immediately thought of 10-year-old Andrew Sylvester.

“We were really grateful that he took the opportunity to think of Andrew,” PJ Sylvester, Andrew’s dad, told “He and the staff have always been really supportive of Andrew and his inclusion in his class.”

Andrew and his twin brother Austin’s parents had been hoping for more events that the twins would be able to participate in together so the race was an answered wish for the family.

Austin and some of the boys’ friends also signed up to run alongside Andrew, who Myers pushed the entire 5k race.

“It made Andrew feel great that he was a part of it. There was a lot of preparation around it and getting Andrew at a comfort level to participate,” said Sylvester. “He was great that day. It was really significant to him. He cheered. We all cheered.”

On the day of the race, Myers even brought Andrew a blanket to make sure he stayed warm as he participated.

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Myers, who has known the boys since they were in first grade, said the moment was sentimental for him.

“I have run many races over the past five years, including triathlons and a marathon.  I live with Type 1 Diabetes so this has been a journey for sure.  This race gave me more pride than any of my individual accomplishments,” Sylvester said.  Since I was pushing, I did not have the opportunity to see the facial expressions of Andrew along the way.  When I saw the pure joy on his face from pictures, I broke down and shed a few tears”

Sylvester said they have hope that their sons will be able to participate in many more events together as they grow up.

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