When I was younger, I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout and had to sell cookies every year. In high school, we had to sell fruit in order to defray the cost of our annual band trip in the spring. I have never been comfortable asking people to buy something or contribute money...even when it's something really important and beneficial to a group of people. But there is a cause that is near and dear to my heart: Our annual Step Up for Down syndrome walk, which is less than 2 weeks away. Not only is it a fun time to hang out with friends, but we get to see our MN T21 friends that we don't meet up with very often, especially those that live a little further away (Hi Ella and Jamie!).
But for me personally there's another reason why I try to fundraise for the DSAMN. When Owen was born, his diagnosis took us by surprise (that might be an understatement!). There were lots of medical professionals that either said nothing to us at all or told us they were sorry and cried frequently when they were around us. On the second or third morning in the hospital, a very kind woman came into my room. She told me she was from DSAMN and wondered if she could sit down and talk to me. She passed Owen's isolette on her way in and peered down to see him. She congratulated me on his birth and told me how much she liked his name and how adorable he was. She was only the second person outside of family to say all of those things and mean it.
She talked with me for over an hour about Down syndrome, the joys and challenges, and her own family which included a son in his twenties with Ds. She brought me a folder filled with information about local support groups, how to get in touch with our school district for Early Intervention, a checklist from NDSS about health guidelines, local recommendations for private therapies, dentists, and specialists. She gave me the book "Gifts" and a soft, cozy blanket for Owen (he still loves it to this day).
But most importantly, she gave me hope. Hope that life would be OK, that Down syndrome might bring some challenges to our family, but we could meet them, that Owen would be everything we expected--a great kid who loves his parents, his sports, his trucks, his books, and his school.
So I raise funds every year for DSAMN so that they can offer workshops for educators that help them understand how to teach and assist our kiddos in learning or help kids and adults with Ds learn to ride bikes without training wheels or allow parents across the state to network at parent groups and feel a sense of belonging with others on a similar path. But mostly so that they can continue to meet scared, anxious parents in the hospital and let them know that things will be alright in the long run.
Just yesterday we reached our biggest goal to date--$1000! Owen and all his buddies (local peeps shout out to Alex, Beau, LiliAnna, Angela, Axel, Abel, Asher, Fiona, Anabel!) thank you!
And for all of you who donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You'll never know how much it means to me that you care about Owen and our family. We are beyond grateful to have such awesome people in our lives.