By Marianne Minton
Jim Taylor and Brad Hardie await an exciting adventure ahead. Traveling more than 500 miles by bicycle, the pair will be pedaling across the entire state of North Carolina, from the highest peak of Beech Mountain all the way to Cape Hatteras.
However, both definitely agree that the ultimate goal of their journey truly justifies the trip.
Beginning on Saturday, April 4, the Cycling 4 LIFE ride will benefit the progression of nonprofit KAMPN LIFE Village (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature – Living Innovations for Exceptional).
Active in the High Country since 2011, KAMPN currently helps address the challenges of autism by bringing awareness and programming to the community. KAMPN also holds a summer camp program each year for children with autism and their families that is free of charge through generous donations and sponsorships.
In the next three to five years, KAMPN LIFE Village hopes to establish a permanent, residential community for adults diagnosed with autism. A sustainable, community-supported environment will help enrich the lives of individuals living with autism, as well as their families and caretakers.
Taylor, KAMPN president and founder, wanted to personally influence the cause by giving his all. A few years ago, Taylor’s grandson was diagnosed with autism. His owner personal experience with autism is also coupled with 50 years of experience working as an educator for children with special needs, so Taylor can offer insight on the challenges of autism both professionally and personally.
“I want to focus on the importance and success of community-based programs like KAMPN that address special needs problems without being institutionalized and stiff,” Taylor said.
“When my grandson came up here to visit and be out in nature, I remember him smiling and truly enjoying the experience. I started to realize that maybe the restrictions of a classroom could be interchanged at times for enrichment through the natural environment.”
How does this affect you?
Reported by the Autism Society of North Carolina, more than 1.5 million Americans, including both children and adults, have been diagnosed with a form of autism. More than 15 million Americans are directly impacted by the disorder, including families, educators and health-care professionals to name a few.
Furthermore, according to updated data from March 2014, the CDC Autism Surveillance Study identified 1 in 68 children as having an autistic spectrum disorder, with that statistic rising since previous years. Autism knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries and is a life-long challenge that affects all ages.
Over the next 15 years, more than 500,000 children with autism spectrum disorders will be entering into adulthood, meaning that communities are beginning to address the best way possible to sustain an environment that will foster success and healthy ways of life.
This is where the KAMPN LIFE Village comes into play. Taylor recognizes that this issue will have to be addressed in coming years.
“There is an increasing need to have a place for adults with autism to be able to prosper and live happy, fulfilling lives. That’s why we wanted to create the KAMPN LIFE Village. It’s apparent the freedom that people get from the environment can really benefit those with autism,” said Taylor.
Donating to a fundraiser like KAMPN’s Cycling 4 Life is simply one way you can help influence positive solutions surrounding autism in your own community. To donate, visit GoFundMe.org/cycling4LIFE or send donations directly to:
1255 Wildcat Ridge
Deep Gap, NC 28618
If you are interested in following the path of Taylor and Hardie’s journey, you can reference the timeline below:
- April 4 Beech Mountain – Boone
- April 5 Boone – Wilkesboro
- April 6 Wilkesboro – Yadkinville
- April 7 Yadkinville – Kernersville
- April 8 Kernersville – Graham
- April 9 Graham – Farrington
- April 10 Farrington – Clayton
- April 11 Clayton – Wilson
- April 12 Wilson – Greenville
- April 13 Greenville – Washington
- April 14 Washington – Belhaven
- April 15 Belhaven – Swan Quarter (Ocracoke Ferry)
- April 16 Ocracoke – Buxton (Hatteras Beach & Lighthouse)