Patrick Richardson is a member of the Essex cross country team.
Richardson has autism, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. Patrick finds comfort in running. The Essex cross country team is the first program that Patrick has been apart of that wasn’t specifically for those with special needs.
“We’ve only been inside the special needs world. We’ve never been outside of it. So, we were afraid that he would either be laughed at or picked on, or just not accepted at all. So, when I talked to Derek and Dylan the coaches, they said that we are all a team. We are all one. We are equal. That’s the way it’s gonna be. I said okay, let’s give it a shot” said Patrick’s mother, Melissa Bronson.
Participating in cross country gives Patrick the ability to run at his own pace and be an athlete just like anyone else.
“Cross country is inclusive, so we can be a very competitive program. We can coach competitive kids but we can be inclusive. You don’t have to be a future Olympian to be on this team, and that may not be the case in some other sports” said coach Derek Martisus.
Patrick finds a lot of joy in running. “I think the first time when he came across the finish line and he saw people cheering him on and knowing his name. Also when they came over the speaker and said “You get pizza” said Bronson.
Coach Martisus added that Patrick is always ready to practice and runs as much as he can.
“We live in a world where we hear a lot of “No’s” so, I’m trying to teach him that we should live in a world of can do’s not can’t do’s” said Bronson.
To nominate an athlete for Local 22’s High School Athlete of the Week, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the athlete’s name, school, grade, and sport.