Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something's Afoot

There are definitely some wonderful things happening with Down syndrome awareness right now.  With the power of the internet, we’re off and running with Facebook status updates, blog postings, and tweets.  Truly amazing how word gets around, and at what breakneck speed!  This community has opened its arms to its own members, offering support in a million different ways, inspiring those on the outside.  I get FB messages and “likes” from my non-Ds-family friends who have obviously received all of my oops-didn’t-mean-to-bash-you-over-the-head-oh-yes-I-really-did posts, who haven’t yet run screaming for the hills and who obviously haven’t blocked me yet (or perhaps they just haven’t figured out how…), and I am grateful for their encouragement and support right back.  I can only hope that they, in turn, have begun to pass my messages of acceptance and respect for people with intellectual disabilities on to their friends.
There still needs to be some muscle added to the mix, some additional star power.  We have self-advocates who are amazing stars themselves, business men and women, and the occasional celebrity with a connection to the cause.  But I don't think that we've had many non-connected champions yet. 
Patricia Heaton, of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, grabbed the ball and ran with it today.  To my knowledge, she does not have a relative with Down syndrome, but someone sent her a message on Twitter that touched her, that made her stop what she was doing and want to make a difference in a really beautiful way.  That message brought to her attention the plight of children with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities shuttered away in the orphanages and mental institutions of eastern Europe, without families to love and care for them, without education and stimulation to nourish their individual potentials.  Someone opened her eyes to Reece's Rainbow, a website devoted to finding families for these children, a site that makes me cry every time I visit. 
Patricia tweeted today that she would donate $1.00 for every person who followed RR on Twitter, up to $10,000.  Actually, the check was already written and on its way shortly after she made her pledge.  I dusted off my Twitter account, re-set my long-forgotten password, and worked to get the word out, along with hundreds or thousands of other amazing advocates.  On her FB page she wrote:
"I know there can be big pitfalls to social media, but I will be forever grateful to the tweeter who alerted me to the work of Reece's Rainbow. I clicked on a link to see the faces of those little neglected angels who have passed on, and immediately started weeping. It was so heartbreaking. Sometimes we feel helpless in the face of such horror, but because of the example of Andrea Roberts, we see that, with a lot of hard work and perseverance, there is something we can do. 
Between work and family, I don't have a lot of time. But I do have financial means and a public profile. God charges us to use our circumstances, whatever they may be, to share His love with the world. I had just hit the 10,000 mark for Twitter followers, and the idea hit me - give $10,000 dollars - one dollar for every "Tweaton" who follows Reece's Rainbow. Accomplish supporting this great organization along with spreading awareness. So far, in a few hours, RR has about 500 new followers, and I hope many more to come.
I am involved in supporting various charitable organizations, but I have recently been asking God to show me where he wants me to be. I think Reece's Rainbow is an answer to that prayer. These kids have had very few people to be their voice, but Andrea Roberts has changed all that. I am so grateful to be a part of her work."
Keep it coming, folks!  Let's keep spreading all of the words that can make a difference for our children, for orphaned children waiting to become a part of something that starts with "our," for the children yet-to-be-born. 


Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

awesome, isn't it?!!

Anna said...

just incredible. Still praying for hearts to be changed.

Our Typical Life said...

I saw that this morning on twitter and was just amazed. I knew there was a reason I liked her :)

I'm on twitter too: @OurTypicalLife

Zoey's mom said...

Amazing.Simply amazing.

Living right outside LA and my husband working smack dab in the middle of Hollywood,I often wonder,what changes could be made,what differences would be seen,if more people,with the means,like Patricia,would step forward.

This is a start.I'll take it for now.

Lori said...

That is really cool! God works in the most amazing ways!

Rochelle said...

So thankful for her following God's call to help the orphans on RR! Awesome!

mama to j and bean said...

That is fantastic!

Sophia said...

isn't it a hoot!!! i'm so amazed by this community that just comes together and supports each other. And think about it, most of us have never even met, but send out an SOS and people just come running no questions asked. it's an honor to be part of all this magic and miracles!