Teacher runs to raise money for autism research

March 24, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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A Gravesend teacher is running for a good cause.

Patrick Broder, a special education teacher at P.S. 721, is running in the Brooklyn Marathon on April 24 to raise funds for autism research.

“I was looking for a new challenge and have never been a big fan of running but wanted to give a marathon a try,” Broder said. 

He created a GoFundMe account for people to donate to the Organization for Autism Research, which was founded in 2001.

According to its website, OAR “funds pilot studies that investigate issues related to diagnosis, early intervention, education, transition to adulthood, housing, employment and life care.” 

Broder was impressed with the organization’s mission and goals. 

“Being that the school I work in is an occupational training center geared towards preparing students for employment upon exiting the DOE, I think that the emphasis on transition to adulthood and employment were the main things that drew me to their organization,” he said.

Broder has worked with special needs students since high school, when he was a member of a Best Buddies chapter. 

“While not all students I have worked with throughout my life have been diagnosed with autism, many have been, so I thought it would be a great cause to raise money for,” he said. 

Broder has raised more than $2,000 so far.

“All of my friends and family have been very supportive, I think because they know how little I enjoy running,” he said. “Within a week, we were able to raise a good amount of money. Beyond the monetary support, I have had many people sharing the fundraiser for me to help reach more people.”

Broder said the most rewarding part of his job is developing relationships with students, which has been a challenge due to COVID-19.

“Many students with learning disabilities, especially autism, tend to thrive on routine,” Broder said. “In a time with so many changes and no set schedule, a lot of our students regressed in terms of their academics but also their social skills.”

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