This month, the Rev. David Burrows will be revving up a sporty 2013 Toyota Scion and logging 2,200 kilometres through Newfoundland and Labrador in a 46-leg time-trial race. “We are hoping to raise $40,000 for autism, but also to raise public awareness of autism in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he says.
Burrows is the rector of the Parish of the Ascension in Mount Pearl. His Racing with the Reverend campaign was launched May 17.
A strong component of the parish’s ministry has been to reach out to the wider community, and to provide seed money and awareness support for organizations in start-up. In 2009, the parish hosted Dancing With the Priests. The event raised $35,000, matched by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, for a new group called Vibrant Communities.
Ascension’s current outreach project actually was inspired very close to home. Two of its young confirmands, brothers ages 13 and 16, have autism, one severely, the other moderately. “We have fully integrated the boys into worship and parish life and ministry,” says Burrows, “but it’s been on our mind for a long time that when their parents die, life may be very difficult for them, and there’s the potential for institutionalization.”
Ascension parishioners decided to promote awareness of autism and raise money to provide for those affected in their post-secondary school years.
Burrows connected with the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, a charity he knew had links to the Newfoundland division of Targa, an international rally and grand-touring event held each September. Ambitiously, the parish decided to enter a vehicle in the race and raise funds for autism through individual and business sponsorships. “Our goal was to be able to provide seed money to develop a site in a community outside St. John’s to assist people with autism,” he says.
The rally group will stop at parishes all across the region, speaking on autism at the parish and broader community levels and also about living faith through loving service.