Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buddy Walk 2011 - It Was Like A Wedding

Jon and Mark-- wonderful men and wonderful family friends holding up the Joey's All Stars Banner.
It was a gorgeous and incredible 80 degree day on Saturday.  About 4,000 people gathered to walk and raise awareness for Down syndrome.  One of the other mom's, Tori's mom Casey, warned me that it would be an emotional day.  She said it was like a wedding.  She was so very right.  I don't know what it feels like for your child to get married and I don't really know if Joey (or Tommy for that matter) will ever get married, but if they ever do I imagine my heart will swell with the same kind of pride and joy that I felt yesterday as friends and families from literally all over the country gathered to walk the the one mile course around Progressive Field and onto the field as part of Joey's All Stars.  It also felt like a wedding because we wanted to make sure every single person who came knew how much we appreciated their support in Joey's inaugural Buddy Walk.  Like a wedding there were tears of joy.  Like a wedding there were family and friends gathered together to celebrate and be together.  Just thinking about it and seeing the pictures makes me tear up because we are coming to a place as a family that I never knew we would be in.  We no longer grieve "the diagnosis"-- we are celebrating Down syndrome. 

Miss Casey and Joey.
My mom and I left the house super early on Saturday morning to go up and help with the set up.  We were in charge of distributing the pom poms and hand fans to walkers as well as organizing the Wal-Mart volunteers who lined the outside track and course during the walk.  It was fun getting to be there to see the entire set up. The day before the walk, Tom and I picked up 3,000 hot dogs from Sugardale and delivered those up to the field.  (If I weren't at the airport right now waiting for my flight that's now been delayed for 4 hours, I'd be able to upload the photo I took of those hot dogs, but that will have to wait until I return home from my work trip--but I promise-- there will be a photo so you can see what 3,000 hot dogs look like--it's actually kind of a let down.  I was picturing hot dogs up to our ears.) There are a lot of behind the scenes jobs that go into putting on a walk for a few thousand participants.  What a day!  Leslie Burke from USOD was in charge and what an incredible job she did organizing so many, many people and pieces to make the walk happen.

From 7:00 am until 9:30 the jump jumps, activities and Awareness Fair booths blossomed all around us.

Giving Casey and Conner pom poms-- love these boys!!!

My pom pom partner in crime.

One of our biggest fundraisers--Amanda, Abby and Marilyn

Sweet Megan and handsome Ethan

The Fairhurst and Baird clan looking smashing.

The Saporito Family-- such adorable twins!

Cousin Ryan with his new baby brother, Alex.

Jill, Freddie and Henry--too cute!

Cousin Brenna-- one of my most favorite photos of the day.

G-pa---another one of my favorite photos!  I think we can see where Joey's smile comes from...

Me, Tommy, Natasha and Sasha--we were so honored to have them walk with us!

Charlie and Shannon-- Charlie's Grandma was visiting from Texas and came and walked!

Joey-- surrounded by love and cousins.

Anne and her beautiful family walked with us.

Dick and Maureen-- Maureen's tips raised almost $1800 total for Joey's All Stars!!!

The Maneras-- such amazing friends.

Cousin Mallory and Joey-- she is so sweet. 

Corrine and Beth made it--even after Beth had been out of town for 2 long weeks and just got in!

Dorothy Grace made it!!!  Isn't she beautiful?

Cousin Mac and Uncle Mike---those smiles--priceless!

Aunt Siobhain, Aunt Sue and Mommy

Casey and Harriet--neighbors, Jr. League pals and friends.

Check out Addie's sunglasses to the left of Shannon and Charlie--love all the action going on.

The gorgeous Fairhurst twins were ready to roll!

The Team Photo Process
There is probably a better way to try and organize a team photo, but, hey-- we were rookies!  So I just kind of walked around like a crazy woman and kept telling everyone to try and squeeze under the sign.  Sometimes it's the journey that is more important...

Getting there.

Almost there...

Not bad!  What a great looking bunch!


Mallory, Aunt LuLu and Carly--so glad they were with us!

We're off!  Catie and David were our awesome sign carriers.

Casey and Harriet with Meghan--another awesome Jr. Leaguer, neighbor and friend.  Hi Tripp!

The beautiful Tipping family.

The lovely Oldfield girls and their proud papa.

Thank you Casey and Drew for making sure we got some family photos!

Joey getting his Buddy medal!

John C. McGinley--aka--Dr. Perry Cox from Scrubs--the National Buddy Walk Ambassador

Cayla & Joey

God bless our team's pregnant walker Amanda who suffered through the 80 degree heat!

The kids hitting the bubble maker after the walk.

Joey, his bottle and his Buddy Walk medal.

Joey meeting Alex for the first time.

Thomas Henry found the bubbles.

And he tried to pop all of them.  Dog dog got a big workout!

Alex and Todd--two of the coolest, most inspiring men I know!

Octoberfest beer for the adults at the Great Lakes Brewing Co post walk.

Aunt Sue and Mac--who turns 1 on Wednesday- Happy Birthday!

Uncle Dave and Uncle Dan

Uncle Mike

Evan and Jack.

Showing his cousins how he can sit--pillow behind just in case.

Celebrating some of the August birthdays with Grandpa.
To everyone who walked, who donated, who bought a Joey's All Star shirt--we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your support and love.  A year ago, the week before we gave birth to Joey, I sent out an email to family and friends to tell them about his diagnosis.  In the email I asked them to prop us up if at any time we faltered from this new path.  Our dear family and friends have done so much more than just prop us up-- you have carried us.  You have celebrated with us.  You have learned along with us.  For this, we say thank you.


  1. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed getting to know you. One of the very best things about Down syndrome is the very extended family you end up with along the way. You are such a wonderful mother and friend. Joey and Tommy are blessed to have such an inspiring mother to learn from. Love ya, Jen!

  2. The walk looked beautiful! Seeing all those photos brought tears to my know how far he has come...and yes its now time to celebrate Down syndrome. So looking forward to our walk in Oct.
    Much love Jenn

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  4. Jen, wish I had known about the walk sooner. Please let me know if there is anything in the future that I could help with celebrating Down Syndrome. I wish to be a part of it!
    Sincerely yours.


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