ELK GROVE, CA - Two Elk Grove youngsters took to the highway for a remarkable journey on specialized skateboards to highlight the challenge of autism.
Daniel Houze and Blake Stassi, both 15, hatched the plan during Christmas break. Both boys have cousins who are coping with autism.
"I thought that autism needed some recognition, that people needed to see what these families go through to help deal with their children," said Houze.
The pair hatched a plan to ride their long-board skateboards from Stanford University to the University of California, Los Angeles. They began on Sunday, June 12, sometimes riding up to 60 miles in a single day. They arrived at UCLA the following Friday.
"Some days weren't too bad and we'd only go 30 miles, and some days we'd really have to push ourselves and go 60," said Stassi.
Both attend Bradshaw Christian School and share a love of long-boarding.
Stassi said he also wanted people to understand the challenge his own extended family has faced with a 10-year old cousin who has autism.
"Every time I hang out with her, everytime I go to my grandparents' house and she's there, you can just see the way that their family is impacted by it. And it just really makes you want to help," he said.
Daniel Houze Sr. said he believes the boys and their families learned a lesson in carrying a complicated plan to a successful ending.
"With inspiration, intent, desire and motivation, that parents and children can do anything," the older Houze said.
The teens rounded up sponsors and started a website where people can contribute to their cause at www.elevateawareness.tumblr.com.