Autistic Basketball Star Jason McElwain Qualifies for Boston Marathon

By Renae Juska

You may not remember the name Jason “J-Mac” McElwain but I bet most people remember his story. J-Mac dealt with his autism since he was young, struggling to socialize with other kids but he always enjoyed the game of basketball.  He became the team manager for Greece-Athena High School for 4 years when the coach gave him the opportunity to play in his first and only basketball game of his career in 2006.

J-Mac, 17 at the time, entered the game and air-balled his first shot but then managed to make six 3-point shots and totaled the game with 20 points. His teammates carried him off the floor and the next day his touching story made national news everywhere.

Well it’s 6 years later and McElwain, now 23, has hit national news once again. This time it’s not for basketball, instead it’s for running a marathon. He recently ran in his first marathon, the 2012 MVP Health Care Rochester Marathon and finished at 15th place in 3:01:42.

Even more shocking, this is more than 3 minutes below the 3:05 qualifying time for the Boston Marathon for runners under age 35.  That’s right; McElwain will be running in the Boston Marathon in April of 2014 (entries for 2013 are closed).

Afterwards, McElwain reported, “It was a great experience- hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He also said miles 18-21 were tough but when he got to 25, he knew he could do it. McElwain only trained for one year before entering the marathon, with hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon and he that’s exactly what happened.

Nothing stopped McElwain from his love of basketball in high school, it’s highly doubtful anything will stop him from competing in his first ever Boston Marathon, even if he does have to wait more than a year. To this day, he is still a voluntary assistant for the Greece-Athena cross country and boys basketball teams.

He has now demonstrated to all of America twice, that even if you have a disability, you can accomplish your dreams if you put your mind to it.

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