This year, I'm actually on sabbatical, which means I don't have to "work" all year long! Actually, despite what many politicians say, that's not true. It just means I'm working on my book--about obsession in British Romantic literature--instead of teaching students. One thing that is true is that this sabbatical gives me more free time to write, so I'm joining this 31 for 21 challenge! I cannot believe how many Buddy Walks it has been since you were born. At our first one, your dad and I just sorta went: we didn't plan, we didn't have a team, we didn't have a tent, and we didn't know many people. We knew a few people from DSAL, and it was nice to see them, but I remember going home feeling, quite honestly, upset and excluded. I had thought that just going and walking--like any walk we do for a charity--would be enough.
What this experience taught me was that this event isn't like a "normal" charity walk or even a charity run. You don't just go, "do" the walk, and then leave. Instead, it's a huge community event, brought together by lots of thoughtful people over many months, to celebrate the communities who embrace those with Down Syndrome. Every individual has a tent, and family and friends congregate for two hours before the walk even begins, as a symbol of our support for and celebration of people like you!!
So the next year, I thought I was prepared. I hand-wrote a sign, "Fools for Jules," which I thought was a clever team name. We also invited Grammy and Papa, who have been there every year and will come this year if we don't have flooding.
There's our tent, Grammy and Papa and, of course, Daddy. And that's Ms. Beth, who was your occupational therapist. It was a small tent, easily given to the whims of the wind, and I clearly can't make a poster, but we tried. A woman who makes hair bows decided to give one to the cutest baby at the walk...which was you! This didn't stay in your hair very long but was sweet.
And then we walked, with a few hundred other people.
For the most part, you were in the stroller, but you did walk those last few steps:
In 2014, we went even BIGGER with a bigger tent, a sign designed by Grammy and Uncle Lee's friend John, and more people, including your Godfamily. Here you are with your Godsister:
Here we all are, wearing them. YOu also started a grand tradition of falling asleep during the Buddy Walk, since we usually get there at 10, you play hard, and we don't start walking until 2:30. So this year I'll keep you home until noon, and hopefully you will have more energy. And just to highlight a few more people who came, Grammy and Papa were there again, as always--
And this year, you were big enough to attempt the jump castles!
Last year, you continued your "tradition" of sleeping--actually, you were pretty sick for the entire walk, which was unfortunate since everyone came again to support you, and we had snacks this time.
So this year, we have the sign, we might not have many people because of a hurricane headed in our direction, but I pray that you'll be awake and be able to appreciate that this HUGE event is put on to celebrate people like YOU! It's not a "charity" event--we are not trying to cure anything or do something that would involve a simple check or even, as I found out the hard way, a "simple" walk. In order to do the Buddy Walk right, I've learned to look at it like Christmas: to prepare, buy materials, make sure everyone has gotten plenty of rest, publicize it (because, let's face it, it's not Christmas), and then celebrate the heck out of you. It's a lot to celebrate. xxoo, mama