Austin Riley drives a bright green Nissan Micra. Miranda Fatur Langley Advance Times

Teen racing to raise autism awareness stops by Lower Mainland schools

Ontario’s Austin and Jason Riley stopped by West Langley Elementary School on April 1.

A racecar was parked outside of West Langley Elementary School on Monday morning to raise awareness for autism.

The driver of the bright green Nissan Micra is Ontario’s 19-year-old Austin Riley – an autistic teen who’s been racing go-karts since he was eight-years-old, and more recently, cars.

Accompanied by his dad Jason Riley, Austin travels across North America and sometimes to other continents, to give school presentations with the goal to educate, inspire, and empower each person the father-son duo speak in front of.

At the racetrack, Austin’s dad Jason and cousin Shane Riley are his pit crew.

“I started Racing with Autism after Austin’s career in karting and decided to go public with his disabilities to inspire other kids like him, or other kids not like him that aren’t brave enough to follow their dreams, that anything is possible,” explained Jason.

In front of students in Grade 4-7 at West Langley Elementary School, Jason explained that he convinced Austin to try go-karting after a flyer arrived in the mail.

According to Jason, Austin grew up with a fixation on cars – he loved watching them drive by, and could identify any kind of model.

“We just wanted to find something that would give him something he hadn’t had at that point in his life, and that was acceptance. We had no idea where it was going to go or what it was going to lead to.” explained Jason.

And despite obstacles along the way such as dealing with anxiety, long trips, meeting new people, and even his kart getting run over, Austin has found his place in the world of racing.

One of Austin’s most recent career highlights was finishing 9th overall in the 2018 Nissan Micra Championship.

“I’ve won four championships in the past eleven years,” Austin said.

“It’s important for people to know that people with autism are different, but it doesn’t mean they can’t do something amazing.”

Austin said the fastest speed he’s hit during a race is 190 kilometers an hour.

“It’s pretty scary, and also really fun.”

This year’s Racing with Autism tour is the first time Austin and Jason have brought the presentation to the West Coast.

“We firmly believe as the adults in the building – and we try to have the kids believe – that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it and have the right supports,” added Sean Oliver, West Langley Elementary School principal.

The school kids had the chance to get signed cards from Austin, check out the racecar, and watch a highlight reel of Austin’s inspirational journey.

Prior to the presentation, scones and coffee donated by Cobs Walnut Grove and the Watershed Arts Cafe were handed out to volunteers and visitors.

Staff members and visitors were also invited to try out the Autism Reality Experience trailer that simulates what it’s like to live with autism.

“It doesn’t matter if the kids are disabled or not, if they believe in themselves and work hard at something they love to do then they will be successful. They spend most of their school life with their head downs trying to fit in, and only when school’s finished do they realize to be successful in life they need to stand out,” added Jason.

Two more Lower Mainland stops are also planned at Chalmers Elementary School in Delta, and Walnut Road Public School in Surrey.

For more information on Racing with Autism, visit facebook.com/racingwithautism/

 

Grade 4 students Gavin Maclean and Caeden Nagle wait their turn for a signed card from Austin Riley. Miranda Fatur Langley Advance Times

Grade 3-4 students Bowen Ruhl (left), Gavin Maclean, Duncan Strijack check out Austin Riley’s Nissan Micra racecar. Miranda Fatur Langley Advance Times

Just Posted

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in South Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

South Surrey woman excited to ‘tell the world Canada is open for business’

Aashina Singh aims to promote Metro Vancouver companies in Singapore and Malaysia

‘Kim’s Convenience’ keeps Surrey actor busy when not working as church pastor in Guildford

Award-nominated James Yi will again play shop owner at Surrey Arts Centre next winter

Pitcher’s comeback highlights Canada Cup for longtime tournament chair

Event organizers now switch gears to prepare for 2019 Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Most Read

l -->