NRU Asterix holds Walk Your Way for Autism in Japan

CAF and civilian crew members of NRU Asterix in Saikai National Park, Sasebo, Japan. S1 TAYLOR CONGDON

NRU Asterix holds Walk Your Way for Autism in Japan

By MS Chris Richards,
NRU Asterix

This marked the fifth year in a row that MS Chris Richards has led a CAF team for the walk, and it was his fourth year doing it with MV Asterix. S1 TAYLOR CONGDON

Regional summer camps, after-school programs, employment outreach, family support services, and post-secondary autism support services are just a few of the programs that Autism Nova Scotia offers to people across the province who are on the autism spectrum and their families. One of the biggest fundraising drives they do every year is the annual Walk Your Way for Autism.

My first walk was in 2019, in Odessa, Ukraine with the crew of HMCS Toronto behind me. My goal was to raise some much needed funds for Autism Nova Scotia, but also to raise awareness for any military members who may be affected by autism in their own families. One of the biggest forms of assistance within the autism community is knowing that there are others who are going through some of the same types of challenges that you might be having. At the very least, it’s great to have someone else who understands the language. That year, we had a team of almost half the ship’s company, and almost everyone who donated or walked had stories of a friend, neighbour, or family member who was autistic.

Since that walk, I have found myself repeatedly blessed by my current unit, Naval Replenishment Unit Asterix. Although the pandemic put a bit of a damper on Asterix’s first walk in 2020, because we weren’t allowed ashore in the UK, we were still able to raise around $1,500 and walk 5 kilometres around the flight deck. In 2021, we were at home in Halifax, so our crew, military and civilian, were able to walk with our families in our own neighbourhoods. Then, in 2022, we held our walk in Norfolk, VA. Unfortunately, the walk in Halifax had to be cancelled because of Hurricane Fiona, so we took on the duties of being the one team that registered in the HRM that could host our walk. We walked the waterfront and downtown areas in Norfolk with pure Nova Scotian heart.

MS Richards (middle) with the Public Affairs team from NRU Asterix in Saikai National Park, Sasebo, Japan. S1 JAXSON BOYD

This year was a special one, because it marked my fifth year as a Team Captain. Since Asterix was deploying on Op Projection and was due to sail through the Suez and the Indo-Pacific before coming back into Esquimalt, BC, I was hoping to hold our walk in one of the many beautiful possible port visits in Asia. I couldn’t have been happier with the end result.

For this year’s group walk, we travelled to the Saikai National Park in Sasebo, Japan. Although the initial walk route was fairly short, the park had a number of possible trails for us to explore, and explore them we did. Between the locals enjoying the park, the flora and fauna we found around the coves, pools, and trails in the park, and just getting to experience some of the more beautiful sights that Sasebo has to offer, our Walk team had a great time. For those who couldn’t join us on the group walk, they took the opportunity to wear their team shirts with pride as they explored the city of Sasebo and all the different things to do. When everything was said and done, Asterix raised over $2,500, which put my personal total over $12,000 for the last five years.

Many thanks to both the CAF and civilian crews of Asterix, and a shout out to all the crew from the 2019 HMCS Toronto Op Reassurance deployment, without whom this fundraising would not have been as successful as it was. A special thank-you also to all those who, over the last five years, stepped in or stepped up to help me organize our walks. I also greatly appreciate those who, even though they weren’t able to get out and walk with us, still took the interest to donate and support the team where they could by helping organize or hand out shirts. Finally, to all those who signed up and took the time to “Walk Your Way” for the last 5 years, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.