Jonathan Brunot was diagnosed with severe autism at two-and-a-half years old. He can neither read nor write, and he is very limited verbally. He needs guidance with bathing, eating, dressing and most daily activities.
The severity of Jonathan’s condition might make many people write him off and say that he won’t ever amount to anything.
But those people would be very wrong.
Despite severe autism, Jonathan has found something he loves and excels at: running.
According to his older brother, Verlaine, Jonathan grew up in a family that believes that, “an autistic person is only limited by the limits we put upon them.” Verlaine said that it was his mother’s perspective that ensured that Jonathan was included in whatever the family was doing. “She always taught us that Jonathan wasn’t merely an “autistic” individual, but rather we were an “autistic” family. It was incumbent upon us as a family to do whatever we could to help Jonathan navigate through this difficult world,” writes Verlaine on Jonathan’s website bio.
Olga’s approach to being an “autistic family” was including Jonathan in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Jonathan tried horseback riding, bowling, and basketball, but none of these really inspired enthusiasm.
Determined to find that would pique Jonathan’s interest, Olga signed him up for the special needs running team, Rolling Thunder. Under the care and guidance of Rolling Thunder’s coaches, Jonathan transformed from a runner who “couldn’t finish a lap around the track without stopping 10-15 times” to a runner in the 2008 New York Marathon.
To date, Jonathan has completed 15 marathons, but none of this could have been possible without a family and coaches that were determined to help Jonathan see success in running. It took months of practices, sometimes with Olga gripping Jonathan’s belt and “effectively pulling him along the trails” and the unbreakable vision of his coaches, Steve Cuomo and Vincent Delcid.
Today, Jonathan’s success in marathons has earned him the nickname “Autism Superman.”
Check out this short film as Jonathan trains for the Inaugural Walkway Marathon on June 13th, 2015 with his big brother Verlaine as his guide.
Jonathan “Superman” Brunot recently finished his 7th Boston Marathon with a time of 4:40:36.
Jonathan runs marathons with coaches who volunteer their time and energy to train and assist him. Coaches from as far away as Hungary have flown in to be part of his incredible journey.
In the summer of 2012, sports headphone company YURBUDS held the #BEYONDTHEWALL Photo Contest, which aimed to honor athletes who have gone above and beyond in their performance. With 7,596 votes, Jonathan won the grand prize: his image on a billboard in Times Square, and a trip to Hawaii, which he gifted to his coaches, Vincent and Suzanne.
Here’s what big brother Verlaine had to say about the billboard:
It took a collective effort of sweat, persistence, discipline and commitment to get Jonathan up on that billboard in Times Square. Suffice to say… it is our favorite picture in the world.
99% of the people you will meet in your lifetime will never be on a billboard… and my incredible brother with severe autism did it.
He just proves that anything is possible.
If you’d like to continue to follow Jonathan’s amazing, inspirational story, you can friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. Since Jonathan can neither read nor write, these accounts are maintained by his family.
The Autism Site is a place where people can come together to support people who are affected by autism spectrum disorder. In addition to sharing inspiring stories, shopping for the cause, and signing petitions, visitors can take just a moment each day to click on the red button to provide therapy for children and families living with autism spectrum disorders. Visit The Autism Site and click today - it's free!