In less than a year, one little boy with one extra chromosome has changed everything. He's taken us on unexpected journeys. The highs of this roller coaster have been epic, while the lows have been bumpy and heart-wrenching. We've learned to take nothing for granted, especially good health. We've learned much deeper empathy and compassion for everyone we meet. We've learned that everyone has some story behind their "public" face. We've learned that inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. We've been humbled to learn that Joey's village is both mighty and kind.
Over and over, friends and family will ask, "What can I do?" We're still learning the answer to that very question, but the 2011 Buddy Walk is going to be a great place to start.
A couple of months ago I attended my first Buddy Walk Committee meeting. It was the month before Joey's surgery and I had what felt like a million things on my plate, but I really wanted to be involved and to do anything I can to get to know other parents, to get information on resources and to help in any way possible. In the past couple of months I've met some wonderful, passionate and dedicated parents. Parents who are committed to advocating and raising much needed funds to improve the lives of people who have Down syndrome. Parents whose children share a common bond with Joey-- Down syndrome. I've learned about little ones named Tori, Genevieve, Brennan, Casey and Conner. The committee meetings are busy with real work, but it's the talking before and after the meetings with the other parents that has been so meaningful. As with anything we volunteer for in life-- you always get tenfold more than what you give. No matter how long a day I have at work and home, when I leave a Buddy Walk Committee meeting there is a spring in my step and a renewed sense of purpose and focus to this mission to improve Joey's future and opportunities.
On August 20th, 2011, we will be participating in our very first Buddy Walk. It's a walk that was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society. The goal of the Buddy Walk is to raise funds, and to bring education, acceptance and awareness of Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk vision is to create and environment in which individuals with Down syndrome are welcomed with fairness, enthusiasm and encouragement. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Sounds like what each of us would like for both ourselves and our children--fairness, enthusiasm, encouragement. Powerful words.
The day of the walk, registration is from 9-10am and the walk kicks off at 10am. This year, Akron's own Todd Eisinger, a self-advocate, entrepreneur and Special Olympian will be serving as the Honorary Chair of the event. There will be activities and food for kids of all ages both before and after the walk on the plaza. I hear the Dunkin Donuts booth for coffee and donuts is a hot spot pre-walk!
On a personal note, we are very grateful to the company my husband works for, Dave Towell Cadillac Saab as well as my dad's company, JBK Manufacturing & Development Co. for both participating as sponsors for this year's walk.
There are four major ways you can help.
1. Join Joey's All Stars Team for the 2011 Buddy Walk on Saturday, August 20th at 9:00 am at Progressive Field and help raise money.
2. Save your dimes!!! All Buddy Walk Teams are collecting "Dimes for Downs". Save your dimes, roll them and drop them off or call me and I will pick them up and roll them. This is especially great for kids to help with! Everyone who is participating in the walk is asked to bring a roll of dimes the day of the walk. Can you imagine if the 4,000 walkers each bring a roll of dimes? The team who turns in the most dimes will receive special recognition (but most importantly-- it's more money for Down syndrome research!).
3. Buy and wear with pride a Joey's All Stars Team shirt for a $10 donation. Shirts are available in Youth S, M, L or Adult S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Email me if you would like to order a shirt. ** A special thank you to Scott Allen for making our vision happen and for making them dirt cheap!
4. Advocate and educate others on what Down syndrome is and what it means to have it or love someone who has it. Share this blog, share your experiences, take time to scatter sunshine.