Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jammin' For Justice 2012 -- Join Us THIS Friday!!! Benefiting The Up Side of Downs!

One of the craziest things about having a child who has some extra needs is that sometimes you need to accept help.  You need to accept love.  You need to accept gifts.  Even before Joey was born I realized that he was not just our child.  He is God's child. He is a child of the universe and we are fortunate to be his parents, but he truly belongs to all of us.  

According to Webster's a gift is:

Definition of GIFT

: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
: the act, right, or power of giving

Sometimes it is easier to give than to receive.  To receive means to understand and accept that you cannot do it all by yourself and why should you if there are friends and family who want to help?

Before Joey was born and the days and months since, we have relied so heavily on the kindness of family, friends and sometimes even strangers (thank you Kelly and LoLo for taking Joey to the doctor while we were out of town!!!xoxoxo).  I have come to understand what the phrase "it takes a village" means. 

Super Joe at the Cardiologist.  Diagnosed with high blood pressure this visit.  Ugh. :-(

I don't know where the time has gone, but the 2012 Buddy Walk coordinated by The Up Side of Downs is this July 28th at Progressive Field.  Last year we sold shirts (Joey's All Stars), one kind friend and neighbor held a bake sale and another kind friend who is a hair stylist donated all of her tips from work.  These were such incredible gifts.  The monetary donations were not the "gifts". It was the thought,  time and kindness behind organizing such thoughtful and generous acts.

Modeling a "Joey's All Stars" shirt from 2011.

I think the best part about a gift is the element of surprise.  That moment where you catch your breath because you just can't believe someone would do something so kind and so wonderful.  

This gift is from a wonderful, beautiful and amazing  friend.  Maryanne.  We were a tight little group that played tennis every Wednesday night.  Maryanne, Brenda, Bonnie and me.  Before I had little ones it was much easier to fit in a weekly tennis match on Wednesday nights. Then came Tommy and soon Sheryl was a part of the foursome-- we had now become five as Sheryl played almost every week as a sub for one of us.  Following Sheryl, Barb came.  Now we were six and it was still an even more incredible group.  Each woman brought her own sparkling personality and life experiences.  

These women play competitive, but supportive tennis.  If you hit a good shot, they were the first to complement you.  It was a homecoming every week as we caught each other up on our lives, families and jobs as we warmed up for the match.  

For one summer, Brenda's daughter, Brittany babysat Tommy while I worked.

Brittany and Tommy (when he was 11 months old).
Tommy today.

Then, in the blink of an eye, Brenda was diagnosed with cancer.  I still remember our last USTA tennis match we played together as partners.  She had already found out about having cancer, but didn't tell anyone until later.  I will always be grateful for that last match we played.  A few months after that last tennis match I found out I was pregnant with Joey.  When we were told 13 weeks into the pregnancy that he only had a 2% chance of surviving I abruptly stopped playing in our weekly tennis matches and I quit teaching my Saturday Spinning Class.  I was so fearful of doing something wrong that might hurt him and I was afraid of being around people and not being able to hold it together.

Our kind and wonderful tennis ladies didn't let me run away and hide.  Prayers, emails, texts and phone calls made sure that I knew I was missed on those precious Wednesday nights.  Every Wednesday at 7pm I felt a pang of sadness knowing that I wasn't out there on the courts with them.  

Although she was incredibly weak from chemotherapy, Brenda and Brittany came over a couple of days before Joey was born and prayed with us.  Just as she had done when I had a crazy procedure while pregnant with Tommy.  Just as she had during our weekly Bible study breakfasts at Beau's and then our one on one sessions at Caribou Coffee (where she found the time to be a Judge, mother of two, wife, volunteer and still fit in all of the Bible studies she did I will never know!!!).  It did not matter that she wasn't feeling well, could barely eat and was not going out very often, she came over and prayed for us, prayed with us and prayed for Joey.  A gift. 

When Joey was born, the tennis girls were there to celebrate! 

When Brenda passed away in March of 2011, we came together again to mourn the loss of our incredible friend.  Though she was no longer physically with us, Brenda had changed each and every one of us for the better in more than one way.  Her legacy will forever be in our hearts and in our friendships.

Jammin' For Justice

When Maryanne told me she wanted to do something to help raise funds and awareness for Down syndrome, the surprise of her gift and the generosity of it brought me back to all of those wonderful Wednesday nights.  Every year, she is in charge of a wonderful fundraiser for the Akron Bar Association called Jammin' For Justice that raises funds for Pro Bono Legal Services.  It is a serious party at Musica in Akron and features lawyers who play in bands rocking it out from 6pm-10pm.  Sounds like fun, right??? You can buy tickets to attend here.

Jammin' for Justice

Jukebox Drawing for The Up Side of Downs

In addition to putting together this huge event, Maryanne also ran an article in the Examiner about Joey's journey and about the Buddy Walk and what The Up Side of Downs has meant to our family.  This year, at Jammin' For Justice, they are selling only 100 tickets for $20 per ticket for the chance to win a CD Jukebox valued at $2,000!!!!   All of the money raised from the sale of these tickets will go to The Up Side of Downs and this year's Buddy Walk team.  

It is so incredibly overwhelming when friends and family help support a cause that is so dear to your heart and want to help spread awareness.  For every act of kindness our family and friends have done we are forever grateful.  We thank everyone in Joey's village who help us along the way every day.

Hope to see you Friday!  Cheers!


  1. What a beautiful, beautiful post. I am so sorry for the loss of such a dear friend. Such wonderful memories you have of her and that you can incorporate that into your life with Joey is so encouraging.

    1. Thank you so much, Lynn!!! She was an incredible blessing and inspiration to so many people. I feel so blessed to have known Brenda.


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