Meet the 13-year-old runner raising money for autism support

Isaac Travers, 13, is running in Sydney's City2Surf for a cause that is close to his heart.
Isaac Travers, 13, is running in Sydney's City2Surf for a cause that is close to his heart. Photo: Supplied

If you thought that a 13-year-old running 14km in Sydney's City2Surf was impressive then Isaac Travers will blow you away. Not only is the young runner planning on running in the iconic event, he is running it for a charity that's close to his heart.

Isaac is a dynamic young man. He loves Doctor Who and Star Wars, and making videos for YouTube. He also has high functioning autism.

Isaac attends a public school and is doing really well. But he recognises that the help and support he has received have made a massive difference. He also recognises that there are other kids with autism that are not fairing so well.

Isaac's mum, Michelle, says that Isaac wants to do his bit. "He sees some [autistic] kids that aren't doing as well as he is, and he wants to help them."

"He said to me 'they need help like I need help'," she says.

This August, Isaac will be running Sydney's City2Surf for Aspect -  Australia's largest not-for-profit provider of services and support for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Isaac will be joining a team of 50 runners who are fundraising for Aspect including his proud mum and dad.

Sydney's City2Surf is known as the world's biggest fun run and attracts thousands of runners ranging from elites to day-trippers, who take their time to stroll the course and enjoy the entertainment along the way.

But there is one element of the City2Surf that all participants dread: heartbreak hill, a brutal two-kilometre climb that tricks runners into thinking they've made it before climbing some more.  

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Michelle, who has been a keen runner for most of her life, says that the notorious heartbreak hill won't be too much of a challenge for Isaac. "We live in quite a hilly area so we've been doing lots of hill reps to prepare."

"Hills don't phase Isaac. He'll just keep going," she says.

Isaac was diagnosed with autism when he was two-and-a-half following a chance meeting with a doctor who immediately noticed the signs. "We had taken him to the doctor because of a nasty head cold, but while we were there the doctor advised us to see an autism specialist," Michelle recalls.

It later transpired that the doctor they'd seen had an autistic daughter and she saw something in Isaac that she recognised.

These days Isaac is thriving – he is socially confidant and happy. Michelle says that going for training runs is a great way to spend quality time together.

Although, for Isaac, there is a bit more to it than running.  

"He really loves making videos and uploading them to YouTube," explains Michelle.

"I think he enjoys that more than the actual running part. We'll go for a run and he'll make a video in the way back."

Knowledge about autism has come a long way since 1966 when six families founded Aspect as The Autistic Children's' Association of NSW to provide schooling and support.

Now, in their 50th year of service, Aspect operates the world's largest network of schools and satellite classes for students on the spectrum and is approved to provide a range of therapy, intervention and lifestyle options under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Aspect believes that people on the autism spectrum are a different brilliant and this shines through in their work with more than 14,000 Australians on the spectrum and their families each year.

You can donate to Isaac's everyday hero fundraising page here.

Today (June 15) is the last day for early bird registration to Sydney's City2Surf, you can sign up here.

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