This year’s Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run will be a family affair for the Neja clan, who are flying in from the US to support their eldest son, Tim, who is on the autism spectrum.

Tim Snr and Jody Neja decided to join this year’s fun run to raise money for the official charity partner, the AEIOU Foundation.

The Foundation runs early intervention programs for children with autism and has centres at Griffith’s Nathan and Logan campuses. Last year’s run raised more than $2,000 for the organisation, and the Neja’s are determined to support it’s good work.

Running for a good cause

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Brisbane many times for work, and I love it,” said Tim.

“We decided it was time for the whole family to see Brisbane, and were looking for a race. We were thrilled to learn about the Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run and its support of AEIOU.

“My wife and I, our six kids and my daughter’s fiancé are registered, and we also decided to become race sponsors because of our love of the autism community.”

The Neja’s run a race almost every weekend to raise awareness and funds for autism charities.

Tim wears the same outfit each time – a t-shirt featuring the autism puzzle piece with two slices of bacon, emblazoned with the message, ‘Autism isn’t a tragedy. Running out of bacon is a tragedy’.

“Our eldest son has autism and was non-verbal until he was 8 years old. He is now 24, and has graduated high school and an Associate Degree in TV and Film Production. He now writes a movie review blog and works regularly as a background extra in TV and films,” said Tim.

“My wife took up an interest in running about four years ago. She asked me to join her in a 5k race, and I found I was barely up to the task. I decided that needed to change, and made running a part of my life.

“I wear my special t-shirt promoting autism awareness at all races. I ran 67 races in 2018, and 27 races so far this year.”

Something for everyone

The Neja family will be joined by more than 500 runners and walkers in this year’s fun run, held on Sunday 9 June.

The stunning cross-country course takes in some of the most scenic areas of the Griffith University Logan campus, through the Arboretum and Lake Ellerslie, and through parklands and paddocks.

“Whether it’s a 5km or 10km run or the 1km Junior Dash, there’s something for everyone,’’ said Griffith Sport Event Manager Holly Ruhle.

Student athletes join in the fun

Helping make the fun run a great day for everyone involved is student ambassador and 2016 Australian Junior Triathlon Champion Sophie Malowiecki, who is completing a Bachelor of Business via Griffith’s digital campus.

Sophie, who posted world junior qualifying times for the 5000m track event, said she was excited to participate in this year’s fun run.

“When the Sports College asked if I would like to get involved, I thought what a great idea,” she said.

“I’ve done the Toohey Trail Run at the Nathan campus, which was far harder than I anticipated, but it was a blast. It also helped me get my bearings around campus!

“The Griffith Sports events have an awesome atmosphere, and cater for everyone from little kids all the way through to masters athletes.”

Sophie has offered some of her top tips for the race:

  • Have something to eat before you race
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stretch before and after you run
  • Relax and enjoy yourself!

The Griffith Sport Logan Fun Run starts at 7.45am on Sunday, June 9, from Griffith’s Logan campus. Registrations close on Thursday 6 June.