South Side senior runs for Autism Speaks


Abbey Brull is lacing up her running shoes to help raise money for a cause. The South Side High School senior will compete in the 2024 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon in March to support Autism Speaks, an organization close to her heart.

Brull, an avid runner and Girls’ varsity soccer player, raised more than $1,500 in donations surpassing her fundraising goal.

“Running is a big part of my life,” Brull expressed, “and I love the idea of raising money to promote inclusivity in the special needs community.”

Her involvement extends beyond running. She is actively engaged in various clubs and organizations in the community dedicated to supporting individuals with special needs and individuals on the autism spectrum, including her school’s Best Buddies program, the Backyard Players and Friends and Camp Anchor.

“I’ve been very passionate about inclusivity and have always promoted that within Rockville Centre and within the special needs community,” Brull said. “I hope to spread that message and hope to influence others to spread the message.”

Autism Speaks is committed to advancing solutions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families through advocacy, support, research, understanding and acceptance. The National Institute of Mental Health defines autism as a “neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn and behave.”

For Brull, participating in the upcoming half marathon is more than just a personal challenge — it’s her platform to advocate for inclusivity within the special needs community and the acceptance of individuals on the spectrum.

Her journey to the starting line is marked by dedication and perseverance. Since late November, she has adhered to a rigorous 15-week training regimen, consisting of both short- and long-distance runs, which she has committed to doing 5-to-6 days a week leading up to the March 17 race.

“Running has always been something that relaxes Abbey and brings her peace,” her mother, Shara Brull, said. “She has also been very dedicated to helping people with disabilities and is looking to pursue a career in this field. I am so proud that she set this goal and brought together two things that are so important to her.”

Looking ahead, Abbey Brull plans to attend college in the fall with plans of pursuing a career as a special education teacher or a speech pathologist.

She also hopes to someday participate in the larger New York City Marathon after her first year of college. But, for now, she says she is happy and excited to get to join the Autism Speaks team for this 13.1-mile run that will take her through Brooklyn, across the Manhattan Bridge, towards FDR Drive, through Times Square and Central Park.

Her participation in the upcoming half marathon not only reflects her personal aspirations but also her unwavering dedication to a cause larger than herself. As she prepares to cross the finish line, each stride will bring her closer to her goal of creating a community united in acceptance and inclusivity.

“I just can’t wait to do it,” she exclaimed, “and to just be in the environment alongside others with the same motivation.”

Unified under a common goal, runners with the Autism Speaks team exemplify the power of individuals coming together to try and make a difference in the lives of others.

The Autism Speaks TeamUp program, through which Brull will be participating, requires that participants raise a minimum of $1,500 for guaranteed, non-complementary entry to the event and other team benefits. Those who already have entry can also join the team with no fundraising commitment.

As the race approaches, Brull encourages others to support Autism Speaks and its mission. For more information about the organization, the TeamUp program, and donations visit