10/06/13 — Meet Cameron's crew

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Meet Cameron's crew

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 6, 2013 1:50 AM

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Cameron Carlyle, 13, foreground, stands with a group of seniors representing the Wayne Country Day School Student Government Association who have been instrumental in organizing nearly 100 participants from Wayne Country Day School who will run with him in the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism in Raleigh Oct. 12. From left are Kennedy Dalton, Mollie McDonald, Miller Gerrard and Marlon Coley.

When Cameron Carlyle enrolled at Wayne Country Day School last spring, the high-functioning autistic student was more comfortable indoors sitting in front of a video game console or designing games on the computer.

His response to the suggestion to try running cross country to increase his activity level and social interaction has surpassed all expectations -- including his becoming a beloved member of the school and now the namesake for "Cameron's Crew," entered in next weekend's Triangle Run/Walk for Autism in Raleigh.

The 13-year-old seventh-grader with a passion for learning "anything about pirates" has become a hero of sorts to his classmates.

That was demonstrated recently when he stood up during a school assembly and gave a speech about the upcoming fundraiser for autism.

"The high school kids can be in their own world -- seniors getting college applications done, testing and the pressure, of course, of their being in as many AP classes as possible," Todd Anderson, headmaster at the private prep school, said. "One hundred forty-four kids in the upper school, grades 7 to 12, for them to just be captivated by Cameron ... as we walked into the performing arts classroom where we have our morning meeting, it was absolutely marvelous."

Anderson recalled the students' reaction to their otherwise quiet and unassuming classmate that day.

"Three kids from his class leaned over the railing and said, 'Go get 'em, Cameron!' And the seniors sat in the front row," he said. "The kids that knew him and knew that he was autistic were just like almost in tears, and the other kids that didn't know were just absolutely enthralled that here's this pip-squeak seventh-grader."

Cameron's impassioned plea to support the upcoming walk has been met with an impressive response. More than 100 people representing faculty, staff and students have signed up to be part of the team.

"We're getting team shirts made so we'll all look alike," Rob Glass, who serves as Cameron's shadow and accompanies him to class, said. "The seniors have really rallied around to make this and took an active role."

And Cameron serves as their team captain.

The enthusiasm generated has been remarkable, Glass said, and Cameron has been the beneficiary in other ways.

"He's far more social with the older kids," he said. "He's getting awesome grades. He's a great student."

Glass said that Cameron's family, which includes his parents, Dr. Ricky and Holly Carlyle of Kinston, has also been appreciative of the rallying support.

"This small school in Wayne County coming together, is willing to give up a Saturday to support one of their own in a cause that affects one of their own, is just amazing to me," Glass said.

Anderson is proud of the student body, but admittedly not altogether surprised.

"That we have two-thirds of our kids willing to jump on a bus and go to Raleigh and spend a Saturday in Raleigh doing this, you hope you can inculcate into kids there's a larger purpose," he said. "This year's (school) motto is from the gospel of St. Luke -- 'To whom much is given, much is required.' I can't ask for more than the senior class taking that and living it. They're putting it into action.

"We have got a mission statement. We have a vision statement. But our reason d'ĂȘtre is the hope to have at the end, you have got a decent, caring human being."

The 15th Annual Triangle Run/Walk for Autism will take place Saturday at 9 a.m. in Moore Square, 200 S. Blount St., Raleigh. Sponsored by the Autism Society of North Carolina, it provides support and opportunities for those with autism spectrum disorder.

For more information on the event, contact the school at 919-736-1045 or go online to www.autismsociety-nc.org.