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Man running to middle Georgia
Trek raises money for autism group
Janey Guined, Cindy Jagielski, John McBrayer, Jackie Moore and Trang Nguyen are raising money for Talk About Curing Autism today and Saturday. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

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John McBrayer loves running long distances, but even he wouldn’t attempt 100 miles, plus a marathon, without a good reason.

McBrayer will run with five others in the 126.2 Miles for TACA, which benefits Talk About Curing Autism.

The group will depart from Turner Field in Atlanta before dawn today and finish the trek with the Museum of Aviation Marathon in Warner Robins on Saturday morning, an estimated total of 33 hours.

The Forsyth County man said a friend in Suwanee ran 100 miles last summer and wanted to traverse even farther.

The friend recruited McBrayer to head up the fundraising effort as the event director.

“Somehow I agreed that it was a good idea to run 126 miles,” he said.

The distance doubles that of his longest race to date, which was 63 miles.

McBrayer, a Forsyth County native, said he’s been long-distance running for about 18 months, a passion that stemmed from his love of hiking.

As he takes off for his journey this morning, McBrayer will think about what he saw at a recent meeting of the Georgia chapter for Talk About Curing Autism. Visiting with the small group of families with autistic children inspired him.

“There was a new family there whose child had just been diagnosed, and I could see the struggle in them,” he said. “The husband was crying a little bit. It was really emotional and it really had a huge impact on me.

“Seeing that they had that kind of support network really touched me.”

McBrayer doesn’t have any family members with autism, but became involved with the cause starting last August when he raised money per mile to benefit a friend’s daughter with the developmental disorder.

He found TACA when he met the organization’s national chapters director, also a Forsyth County resident, at a 10K in September put on by a local business.

Jackie Moore said she’s grateful for McBrayer and the other “ultra-runners” who will use their skills to raise awareness and funds for a cause that hasn’t personally affect their lives.

“It’s one thing for me to step up and do something for the cause because I have a personal connection,” Moore said. “For them to do something like this for my daughter and all the other kids out there, it means so much.”

Moore’s 11-year-old daughter, Jordyn, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Her parents noticed something was different when the toddler began “losing skills.”

After a few difficult years, Moore discovered many resources to help her daughter through the TACA Web site. Now a student at Dave’s Creek Elementary, Jordyn Moore is happy with many friends, said her mother.

Jackie Moore launched the Georgia chapter of TACA about six years ago. She became the organization’s national chapters director last year.

“Many times, autism is so isolating,” she said. “We do a lot to get families out, but also to educate them.”

The Georgia chapter holds seminars and social events throughout the year to open up resources and options to parents, she said.

The 126.2 Miles for TACA event has set a goal to raise $5,000 for the Georgia chapter, and was less than $500 away the day before.

McBrayer said he’s happy to support the group because the money stays in the local community and he sees where it’s going and how it helps.

Today, he’ll be focused on his goal of reaching 100 miles.

“You get past the point of exhaustion, but time goes by fast for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s amazing how distracted you get to the fact that you’ve been running for that long.”