Young Runner Raising Funds For Special-Needs Art Program in Queens
NEW YORK CITY — He's hoping to make some strides for art.
A young Queens boy is raising money for a local art program by running in a 5-mile race geared towards celebrating athletes with special needs.
Max Moore, a 9-year-old from East Elmhurst, is running in Sunday's Achilles International Hope and Possibility race in Central Park to boost funds and awareness for the ArtAccess Autism Initiatives program at the Queens Museum.
The art program began 30 years ago and is designed for people with special needs, using art to encourage engagement between children with autism.
Max, who is autistic, has attended the classes and made great relationships with other kids, according to his parents.
"It encourages kids to interact through art," his mom, Jackie, said.
Max ran the 5-mile race last year, raising money for his school. This year they wanted to spread some love to the ArtAccess program.
Max joined the Achilles Kids running program, which is also geared towards children and teens with special needs, three years ago.
When they signed him up, his parents didn't know what to expect. But thanks to program coordinators who his dad described as angels, Max has excelled.
"He really took to the program. He took the their approach and the way they engaged," John Moore said. "It was really remarkable to see how quickly he fell into step with the program."
The rhythmic and repetitive act of running calms Max, his parents said. They found he is a natural athlete, tackling Central Park's famous hills with boundless energy.
Running can be done solo or with a group, and his mom said it's wonderful to see their son find something he can enjoy throughout his life.
While he's out running laps, he can also engage with fellow runners.
Max spent a recent training session explaining the height and history of some of Manhattan's most iconic buildings, offering an architectural history lesson for those alongside him.
"He has these little things that get him excited and he would share them while running," his dad said.
Sunday's race will feature veterans wounded in action, wheelchair athletes and kids like Max, who are on the autism spectrum.
His dad will be running alongside him — at times, he said, maybe pulled along by his son.
"I don't run. I barely waddle," John Moore said. "Through Max's inspiration, I'll be trying to keep up."
Max is more than 75 percent finished with his goal. If you'd like to help him compete and raise money, you can donate online at his page.