By Kaitlin Candelaria
Seventeen-year-old Taylor South is the inspiration behind WODism for Autism, a fitness competition that began four years ago.
His mother, Dawn South, a coach at CrossFit Over the Mountain, was inspired after attending another competition focused on raising money for charity.
Taylor, who was diagnosed as a child with autism, has never been able to participate in team sports. However, when his mother began doing CrossFit in 2010, Taylor finally found a physical activity that he was comfortable doing.
“Taylor started CrossFit Kids not long after I began CrossFit, and he did really, really well at it,” Dawn South said. “He really seemed to like it, and I felt like I had finally found something for him that would keep him active and, more importantly to me, engaged with his peers. I want to share that with other families.”
CrossFit is a fitness regime that combines gymnastics, Olympic lifting and high-intensity interval training among other things. Taylor was especially attracted to the gymnastics movements. In 2012, Jeff Tucker of GSX CrossFit programmed the WOD, or workout of the day, called “Taylor” to honor Taylor and other children who are on the autism disorder spectrum. That same WOD is used each year for this event.
Dawn hosted the first WODism for Autism in 2012 and was elated when she raised $7,000, she said.
Since then, the event has grown and has raised thousands of dollars for local autism charities such as the Autism Society of Alabama and KultureCity.
This year’s event will take place at CrossFit Over the Mountain in Vestavia Hills on April 18 and will benefit KultureCity.
Competitors can win prizes such as a GoPro. There is no specific cost to participate, but donations are welcome.
“The mission for WODism for Autism is to raise awareness,” Dawn South said. “Awareness for the increase in autism diagnoses. Awareness in how many parents are just looking for someone to help them find answers. Awareness to how these children want to be a part of our world but struggle to on a daily basis. Children and adults with autism have so many needs that are not being met mostly because the general public is unaware that there is a need.
“CrossFit Over the Mountain has one main goal — to make a difference.”
To register or for more information, visit www.facebook.com/wodism.