Monday, September 27, 2010

Buddy Walking

Saturday was the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia's annual Buddy Walk.  This day is one of the most anticipated days for families whose lives have been touched by a person with Down syndrome, for several reasons.  It's the biggest annual fund raiser that brings in much-needed funding to the local and national DSAs - funding that helps provide support for families, public awareness, and programs that enrich the lives and futures of people with Ds.  It's also a day that brings people together.  More than any other event that the Association puts together throughout the year, the Buddy Walk draws the largest crowds.  It's so inspirational to see people with Ds of all ages, to interact with them and meet their families.  It's so much fun to see your friends and to watch your children play with theirs.  Overall, there's a grand feeling of unity.

The NDSS Buddy Walk in New York City was also on Saturday.  Every year I submit a photo of Samantha for their Times Square photo montage video, and this was the 2nd year one of her photos was selected.  I would have loved to have been there in person to see it as it flashed up for the world to see, but this year it was not meant to be.  One of my Facebook friends has photographed the whole thing and I can't wait to see the shot of Samantha as it was viewed by the crowds on the ground!

We started the morning off with what I think was a touch of food poisoning on Samantha's part (no idea what may have brought it on).  She was in good spirits despite the yuck that was going on with her, but with no fever I decided we'd brave the event and I'd just hope she'd stay yuck-free for the day.  Which, thankfully, she did.  Somehow she managed to fall asleep on our blanket in the blazing sun while a very loud band played up on the stage.  She slept for about 45 minutes, and woke up surprisingly happy.

I tend to get pretty emotional at these kinds of events when I hear an inspirational speech or witness some sort of first for Samantha.  Saturday's Grand Marshall was certainly an inspiration.  She is a young woman with Down syndrome who made a speech that made me very grateful for the eye-hiding sunglasses I was wearing.  A young woman that I can hope Samantha will be like one day.  So inspirational.  And, I realized, she is a young woman that happens to be in this year's calendar!  I also was moved by Samantha's encounter with Cinderella.  I know it's kind of weird, but when I see how happy Sammi is to see some of these characters and try to imagine, myself, what Samantha must be thinking when she meets them, I get pretty choked up.  And to see how sweet and kind and, well, Cinderella-like the woman in costume was, made me grateful for my sunglasses once again.

Saturday also marked the annual debut of the DSANV calendar.  This is the 3rd calendar that I've put together, and after nearly 8 months of work (with the help of a friend and fellow DSANV mom), it was finally completed and in my hot little hands to put for sale on the table in the retail tent.  I'll preview some of the images in a future blog post.  My work on it doesn't end here, however - I also do all the mailing-out of orders as they come in, so it really is a year-long project.  But it's a labor of love.  It's so gratifying to see the finished product and to hear the feedback from the parents whose children have been featured.

Here are some pics from the day.  Enjoy!


JRS said...

I am with you on getting emotional at the Buddy Walk, every.single.year. Though year two I cried tears for a different reason (less fear and more joy). Ours is this weekend and Sophie and I might go to another county's BW the following weekend. Maybe this is why I have a hundred BW t-shirts?! ha
Those are some great shots, especially the last one. Glad you all had fun and that Sammi made it through without the yucks.

Kelly said...

Emotional, indeed!! We will be walking in MA on 10/10/10!! Looking forward to our 2nd walk. Yes, sunglasses do come in handy....such an inspriational day. Thanks for sharing the recap of your day, sounds like it was AMAZING!! Sammi is just BEAUTIFUL!! The pic of her & Cinderalla gave me chills....very sweet. Glad to hear that Sammi made it through day yuck-free=)

BTW, what a neat little plaque of Sammi and her accomplishments. Great idea!!!

Anonymous said...

Sammie WILL be that woman who grand marshaled the Buddy Walk! Just wait and see :)

Oh, and hey..."Cinderella" is a woman from my Mothers of Preschoolers group. She really is a wonderful woman in every way ")

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful day it was!! I tried looking for you but with all those people I somehow didn't get to say Hello!!! The calendar is great and of course the picture of Ethan on the back looked fantastic. I agree with all the emotions this was our 3rd buddy walk and every year I have a different emotion!! Thanks for doing a terrific job on the calendar

Nicole Mills

Rochelle said...

What a fantastic day. We had our walk on Saturday too and really had a great day.
Love that her pic was chosen again for the Times square video, very cool. Of course, how could they not choose her she is absolutely adorable!

my family said...

what a great day!

Renee said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes.