As a high-functioning autistic, Christian Wilde has overcome a lot of obstacles, accomplishing things many thought he wouldn’t or couldn’t.
Why has he been able to succeed? Because Christian never gave up on himself and his family, friends, aides, and teachers never gave up on him. Christian is a senior at Oak Ridge High and a member of the cross country and track and field teams. He’s this week’s athlete of the week because of the work he put in over the summer to prepare for the upcoming cross country season.
“Christian trained very well throughout the summer to get himself prepared for his senior cross country season,” Oak Ridge coach Rob Fairley said. “He has put a lot of work into his training, which has allowed him to come into the cross country season with a lot of strength and endurance. This is Christian's fourth year of cross country at Oak Ridge. He finished last track season on a high note by obtaining a personal best in the 1600-meter run at league finals. Christian has a great opportunity to obtain personal bests in cross country this fall and to be a strong contributor to the success of the varsity team.”
On top of all his training, another big highlight over the summer was Christian finishing 11th overall in the inaugural El Dorado Hills Gold Country Half Marathon. Christian finished the event in 1 hour, 25 minutes and 59 seconds.
Christian is proud of all he’s accomplished and grateful for all the love and support he’s received along the way.
“When I was 2 ½, my doctors told my mom and dad I had autism,” Christian said. “We never gave up; none of us. We worked hard. Sometimes it wasn't easy or fun, but we made it. And guess what? I beat the odds and am driving, running, and going to Oak Ridge High School. I love running with my team and thank all my coaches for believing in me.
“I want to give a thank you to all my aides, teachers, and friends that have supported and believed me through the years. My mom calls it a village. A special thanks to Mr. (Kevin) Placek, for always been there for me and always will.”
Placek, who was Christian’s aide at Oak Ridge the last 2 ½ years, has high regards for him.
“Christian is a very hard working kid in the classroom,” Placek said. “He has always been a pleasure to work with, and I have enjoyed seeing him grow over the past few years. One of the hardest parts of me leaving Oak Ridge to pursue a teaching career is not having the opportunity to help Christian finish out his high school career.
“Over the summer, Christian volunteered to assist me with a project I was doing for my credential program. We met several times, as I had to practice giving him different standardized assessments for students with special education needs.”
Christian’s mom, Liz, is also proud of her son and grateful for everyone involved in his life.
“When Christian was diagnosed with autism, we were thinking how in the world are we going to do this? God gave us the strength and know-how to seek the proper channels to help our son. We made a big move to El Dorado Hills and settled into a new life. With a lot of hard work, and many a tear, both good and bad, we beat the odds and Christian has amazed and taught us all so many lessons about "real" life.
“Throughout Christian's life, we have had unbelievable people in our school systems, private agencies, and support groups, friends, and family that believed in him and us, helping him with everyday tasks, and simply supporting our family. I thank you all for that. You all know who you are and we love you.”
Folsom Telegraph: What are your hopes/plans for after finishing high school?
Christian Wilde: I would like to go to Folsom Lake College and begin a career working in animal care.
FT: Do sports run in your family?
CW: Yes, our parents raised us to always stay healthy and exercise.
FT: How long have you been running and how did you get your start in it?
CW: This will be my 12th year. I started competing in sixth grade because my parents said I had to have a sport. I have done it ever since.
FT: How have your first three years of cross country gone for you? Have you seen the improvement you’ve hoped for?
CW: My first year, I wasn't able to finish the season because my Nana passed away. Each year my goal was to improve and beat my times the previous seasons. I think I have done pretty good.
FT: The summer is a key time for runners to prepare for the upcoming season. Tell us what your offseason workouts were like and how many miles did you run?
CW: I ran everyday, running even on vacations. I maybe missed a day here or there due to stuff going on. Total miles for summer running were around 500.
FT: Was it hard to do all that you did? When you didn’t feel like running, did you run anyway, or was that not an issue? Was the motivation always there?
CW: Yes, my parents, my coaches, and my brother gave me the motivation to keep going even when I didn't want to. I met up with my teammates to run once a week and that motivated me too.
FT: Did you run by yourself or with friends?
CW: I did both.
FT: What are you thoughts on your upcoming senior season?
CW: My goal is to beat my 5K time of 17:47 and represent my school and myself. I’m hoping to encourage the freshmen to try hard.
FT: What do you enjoy about the cross country season?
CW: Being with my teammates and always having the support of my coaches, family, and friends.
FT: What are your personal goals for this season? What about team goals?
CW: Again, beating my 5K time, and beating my brother's time. I’m hoping we win league finals.
FT: What has been your top cross country or track and field memory so far at Oak Ridge?
CW: Breaking five minutes on the mile last year in track!
FT: What’s your favorite class at school and why?
CW: Financial Analysis, because I am learning how to deal with money.
FT: Favorite Food?
CW: Eating sushi with my friends and family.
FT: Favorite music?
CW: R&B and Khalid.
FT: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them?
CW: We have two Vizslas, Charlie and Oscar. They are spoiled rotten, but make me very happy.
FT: Do you have any interesting hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
CW: Play video games and hangout with friends.
FT: What inspires you in sports?
CW: Other kids/people running with special needs. Knowing if they can do it, I can.
FT: What are your career goals? What job/profession are you interested in?
CW: I would love to work with animals and hope to see what I can do once I get to college.