It is one of the craziest things. I have an incredibly difficult time asking people to donate money or time or talent to anything that involves me or my family. Mind you, I have had no problem asking for donations for the Art Museum, United Disability Services, The Junior League, Stan Hywet, Child Guidance and other organizations, but I have a really, really hard time asking for donations for an incredible event that helps not only Joey, but our family and thousands of other families and individuals with Down syndrome all over Northeast Ohio.
Saturday, July 28th is the 2012 Down Syndrome Buddy Walk to benefit The Up Side of Downs as well as the National Down Syndrome Society. The walk starts at 9:00am and there is a ton of food as well as entertainment for kids and adults. It takes place at Progressive Field, Home of the Cleveland Indians and is a one mile walk that around the ballpark in support of all people with Down syndrome.
By participating in the Buddy Walk, you will make a difference in the lives of individuals with Down syndrome right here in Northeast Ohio. Every step you take as well as $.93 cents of each dollar you raise will help The Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio and the National Down Syndrome Society provide very important services that enhance the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Last year was our first walk. It was an emotional walk. Only 7 weeks before the walk, Joey had undergone his open heart surgery. The week after the walk was his first birthday. But more than that, it was incredible seeing so many family and friends who were out spreading awareness, acceptance and love.
I wish I could take all of Joey's doctors' appointments away. I wish I could do his therapy for him. I wish he could just stand up and walk (or even get up on all fours and crawl for that matter). I wish he could eat and drink without having to worry about his food and drink being "thick" enough to swallow. I wish he had perfect hearing in both ears. I wish he could see and that his eyes didn't jitter back and forth. I wish his leaky valve in his heart would heal. I wish he could say mama. I wish every day that I could somehow make his life easier. That he would be free from all the physical constraints as well as the stigmas that are sometimes associated with having Down syndrome. I wish I could protect him from bullies and from cruel people. I wish I could shelter him for the rest of his life. But, I can't. Instead, I must give him roots and wings. Instead, I must help spread awareness and advocate for him.
That being said..... I would never wish for his Down syndrome to go away. His life has a purpose. He is an amazing little boy who is full of life, love and energy despite all the obstacles he faces on a daily basis.
That is the real reason we walk. We walk to spread awareness and to stand side by side with all the other amazing children and families who also walk in our shoes.
We hope you can join us.
If you are interested in participating, there are a few of ways!
1. Join Joey's All Star Team and help raise money.
3. Buy and wear with pride a Joey's All Stars Team shirt. Shirts are available in Youth S, M, L or Adult S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Call or email me if you would like to order a shirt. Long sleeve "tech" running shirts are a $20 donation (cost to make is $15, so a $5 donation goes to The Up Side of Downs), regular t-shirts are a $10 donation (cost to make for us is $6), women's tank tops are a $17 donation (cost to make is $12). All proceeds from the t-shirts will be donated to The Up Side of Downs Joey's All Stars Buddy Walk team.
Here are some of the T-shirts:
Ladies Tank Tops: