How far would you run to help integrate someone you love into society?

How far would you run to help integrate someone you love into society?

Rafael Gomez, a technical sales manager who lives in Wellesley, will run 131 miles.

The Cuban-born father of three children decided he will run 10 half-marathons (13.1 miles each), in hopes of raising $5,000 each time to help fund autism research.

Gomez and his wife, Kerstin, are parents to Seth, 9, Julien, 7, and Zoe, 6. Seth and Zoe are both adopted. Julien, their biological son, has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, one of the autism spectrum disorders. Seeing him struggle has motivatedGomez to run, hoping to contribute to a better understanding of what has been described as one’s inability to relate in ordinary ways to people and situations.

“[Julien] fits in in so many ways,” Gomez said in an interview at his Avon Road home. “But every day there is a reminder that he is autistic. I realize that there are services out there, but until they figure out what causes this, there won’t be a solution.”

With a final goal of $50,000, Gomez plans to donate the funds from his campaign to the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and contribute his part to finding that solution. If he reaches his goal before Oct. 1, he will run the Bay State Marathon instead of the Half-Marathon.

Gomez and Kerstin appreciate the fact that they have a close group of friends and some have similar struggles. Julien has also made friends, something not all parents of children with special needs can count on. But they want more.

“I’d like my son to be integrated in society,” said Gomez. “I want other people to be rewarded by him,” added Kerstin.

They’ve heard other parents speak well about the treatments done at the DMC. “I’ve met parents of children like Julien who speak of the doctors at the DMC as if they were miracle workers, because of the evaluations and treatments they’ve provided,” Gomez wrote in the Web site he established especially for his fundraiser. “This probably explains the nine-month waiting list to see a doctor at the DMC.”

He also wrote: “My wife and I had two years of absolute bliss before my son Julien was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a ‘high functioning’ type of autism.”

Despite the normal behaviors before age 2, today Julien struggles to follow directions, has emotional outbursts, exhibits compulsive behaviors, repeats strange sounds and sits by himself during recess at school.

A dream of contributing to change the permanence of his son’s diagnosis is what has moved Gomez to want to do something. The money he will raise will help fund a unique research that will bring together specialists from the areas of genetics, genomics, developmental medicine, neurology, neuroscience, cognitive science and bioinformatics. With this major collaboration, scientists hope that someday there will be a better understanding of the disease that afflicts one in 150 children in the United States today.

“No matter how much you love [your child], there is always the question: ‘What caused it?’” Gomez said.

Gomez is already counting a good number of donors among those he approached.

“Only one person told me, ‘I can’t right now,’” Gomez said. “He is out of the country and wants to do something in his country now, and I respect that. But my biggest donors have been from outside of the country.”

Enthusiastic and driven, he wrote in his blog that he follows the inspiration of Muhammad Ali, who said “The will must be stronger than the skill.”

His belief that he will be able to motivate others contrasts with his knowledge that fundraisers must be aggressive, especially in the first year, he said.

“My feeling is that unless you set a goal and envision it, it won’t happen. You have to let people see your passion. Once they see it, they’ll join you.”

On May 27he ran his first race, “Boston’s Run to Remember.” Things didn’t go as swiftly as he expected, mostly because of the hot temperature. He wrote in his blog — —that he didn’t feel very well and had to bring the pace down. “I finished at a worst- ever pace of 2:13, but am still looking forward to next weekend’s run in Vermont, the Covered Bridges Half,” he wrote. He continues to strive to finish one race this year under the two-hour goal he established for himself.

“Perhaps, just perhaps, the money I raise will help other parents diagnose their child more quickly, treat them more effectively and optimize the various treatments, so the child leads a more productive, integrated life,” Gomez wrote in his “First Giving” Web site Personal Statement.

To follow Gomez’s race and to contribute to his fundraiser, see