Asterix brings Walk for Autism to Norfolk

The walking crew from NRU Asterix in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA on September 25.

Asterix brings Walk for Autism to Norfolk

By S1 Chris Richards,
NRU Asterix

Life in the Navy is challenging for all. No one can deny that. But life in the Navy, while having two of my three kids living with autism, means I do things differently. It means that when we are alongside in Halifax, I spend the majority of my time with my amazing kids, and when I sail, my absolute rockstar of a wife manages to do all the things to run the household that would normally overwhelm me. But I would be willing to bet that I’m not the only one in this situation. In fact, I can guarantee I’m not.

I am Chris Richards, a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, and a father to autistic kids.

Since my two boys were diagnosed, I’ve done my best to raise awareness about what life is like for those who live with autism spectrum disorder. I have made it a personal goal to, not only bring awareness to organizations like Autism Nova Scotia, who offer so much for the autistic community within the province of Nova Scotia, but to raise funds wherever I can and however I can. One of the biggest fundraising drives that Autism Nova Scotia hosts is the annual Walk Your Way for Autism.

This is my fourth Walk Your Way for Autism, and up until this year I raised $7,600 and had my teams walk both in and outside of Canada. We’ve held Walks in Odessa, Ukraine; Southhampton, England (on the flight deck, due to COVID-19 regulations); and right here in Halifax.

This year, our crew and our family members banded together once again, and we managed to raise another $2,000. In Halifax, the Walk was scheduled to be held on September 25th, and would be the first time since COVID-19 hit the world that we would be able to host the group event again. Unfortunately, Hurricane Fiona was on its way, and the organizers at Autism Nova Scotia decided to cancel the Walk, to ensure everyone’s safety, and to move back to a virtual Walk for this year. Since Asterix was already at sea, and still had to hold our Walk, we decided that we would use one of our port visits to Norfolk, VA to bring awareness to our cause.

The crew of NRU Asterix showed up in front of the Nauticus Museum at 9:30 a.m., walked down the Waterside District, the downtown core passing by the MacArthur Memorial, and headed back towards USS Wisconsin and the statue of The Lone Sailor in Wisconsin Square. The weather was perfect; as if Mother Nature was giving us the best day for it, and before too long, we had another successful Walk for Autism in the books.

I would like to give a special mention to our ship’s civilian master, Captain Tim Allard, who took the time away from his schedule to walk with us, and to our Commanding Officer, LCdr Kyle Hooper, and all those who weren’t able to join us downtown but still participated through donations or walking on the ship. Every little bit helps more than you can know.

I don’t know where I’ll be next year, but you can be sure, I’ll be raising funds and awareness, wherever I can!