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Running in his shoes: Triathlete helps 15-year-old boy with autism run first 5K in Cedar Park

Thanks to the help of Ordinary Marathoner Foundation, Jonah Papovich finished his first 5K on Thanksgiving Day.

CEDAR PARK, Texas — You can learn a lot seeing the world through the eyes of a swimmer. You can learn even more seeing it through the eyes of Scott Frasard.

Frasard, 49, sees things in a unique way. He expresses himself a bit differently, and feels best understood through his actions. These actions start in the pool and continue on land.

"I think I'm up to about 50 or 60 half marathons," he said. "I've attempted eight half Ironmans, finished five. And I've done one full, one attempt, one completion of a full Ironman."

An Ironman triathlon is a superhuman accomplishment that includes 2.5 miles in the pool, more than 100 miles on the bike and a full marathon on foot to finish.

Yet, for Scott, that wasn't enough.

"My attention is always going somewhere else," he said.

The way he sees the world is different, so he wanted to make a difference. He recently launched the Ordinary Marathoner Foundation – a nonprofit that breaks down barriers.

"We raise money and put on programs," said Scott. "It's really to help give back to the community and bring people who couldn't otherwise do this sort of stuff, these endurance sports, because of maybe perceived abilities or lack of access or resources."

It turns out resources were all one Central Texas boy needed.

Jonah Papovich is 15 years old, and he too sees the world in a unique way.

"Well I'm autistic," Jonah said. "And I have trouble with anxiety."

Jonah has been training for his first 5K thanks to a helping hand from Scott's foundation.

"We found Jonah, who is our first participant," Frasard said. "We set him up with proper running shoes, socks, running belt, a coach to do training."

Credit: KVUE News

Jonah's mom, Maureen Papovich, is pleased with how things have been going.

"We've never seen what he can do physically," she said. "But right from the start he just seemed to kind of do it well. He doesn't complain, he seems happier, joyous afterwards."

Jonah has been connecting with his coach virtually. She gives him the workouts. He does the workouts, most of the time by himself, all to prepare for race day.

But on race day, Thanksgiving Day, Jonah wasn't alone. In fact, he was right next to someone who knows what it's like to run in his shoes.

"Just before the pandemic hit, I was formally discovered as being autistic," Frasard said. "It answered so much. It explained so much of my life up until that point. I fully embrace it."

As the race begins, we're now seeing the world through the eyes of two runners, two friends.

"There's that commonality of we're both autistic, the commonality of we're both runners now," Scott said.

"I think it's kind of neat how he has autism like I do," Jonah added. "People can get to know about who I am and what sort of challenges I might be facing out there."

"I want to let everyone know that we're just different, we're not less," Scott said.


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