First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my story. I was born and raised in Slovakia and I have lived in New York City for over ten years now. My parents got divorced when I was little and my mom raised my three siblings and I. As you can imagine it wasn’t easy for her, especially when she was worried about my brother who struggled with developmental delays. He was born prematurely and his level of comprehension was lower than the average child’s. He needed help with learning that was not available at that time in Slovakia.
Unfortunately, his failing grades held him back and he couldn’t follow his biggest passion – ice hockey. He was not accepted into a sports academy and it was devastating for him as well as for the family. He developed severe behavioral issues, and barely made it through high school. Luckily he was able overcome his challenges and he is now a caring husband and a loving father to a bright four-year-old boy.
I never really realized how much my story relates to Dylan’s Wings of Change foundation until I started writing about it. This organization is here to help children with autism and other special needs reach their full potential and find their way to become healthy and successful individuals. As a pre-school teacher and a nanny I have worked with special needs children and have fully realized the importance of the mission of Dylan’s Wings of Change.
While I love my job, it can be very stressful and emotionally draining at times. I always found running to be a great stress reliever and it has been my way of relaxing and getting my strength back. I have been a runner for many years and it has been a dream of mine to run the New York City Marathon.
A couple of years ago, I added yoga to my daily practice as well. I fell in love with how it made me feel so much that I decided to become a yoga teacher. I have recently graduated from 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and a part of my final project was hosting donation based outdoor yoga classes (I am still running these classes). All of the donations made in this project will be given to Dylan’s Wings of Change as part of my fundraising.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of something so special, something that can make a difference in a child’s life. Maybe even help a little boy like my brother fulfill his dream of becoming an ice-hockey star.
Natalia is Running for Dylan in the 2015 TCS New York Marathon. You can donate to her fundraising page on Crowdrise and find out details of her Brooklyn "Yoga in the Park" class through her Facebook page.