We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for this year’s Buddy Walk. The morning fog cleared mid-day, the sun came out, and temperatures reached the unseasonably warm upper-70s. The event was held this year at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage home just east of Nashville, and the setting was gorgeous as the fall leaves in Tennessee reach peak colors.
But the truth is that whatever the weather, the Buddy Walk is one of my favorite days of the year. I have written before about how much this day means to us and why. There is just no way to fully explain the experience of walking through a crowd of thousands of people who all share the joy of loving someone with Down syndrome and knowing that we are in this together. This is a group that can move mountains – and will.
Lina was thrilled this year to have a couple sweet classmates from school attend with their families. We are so grateful to all the friends and family who came out to be a part of the walk with us, and to every person who donated. The money raised through this event funds an entire year’s worth of programs for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, including critical education and advocacy work. Every donation, every person who comes out to walk is a part of making this community a better place for people with Down syndrome, and ultimately, for all of us. So thank you, thank you, Team Lina. You showed up, and it means the world.
The whole crew – Thank you, Team Lina!
Last year, I wrote a soliloquy on the Buddy Walk. Definitely read it if you’re not familiar with the Buddy Walk, but this year, I’ll get to the pictures pretty quickly. What you need to know is that this past Saturday, 6,000 people gathered at Centennial Park in downtown Nashville to celebrate the people we love who have Down syndrome. Twenty-four of those were Team Lina, our people who went well out of their way to show their love for Lina and their commitment to helping us make this community the place it needs to be for her. Many of you donated and sent your love over the miles, and you, too, were a part of the day. We ate lunch, relaxed and chatted and participated in what – thanks to numbers that swell every year – was more a crawl than a walk, admiring the hundreds of posters featuring people of all ages who sport that extra chromosome. It’s easily one of my favorite days of the year.
An already sleepy girl
Catching up with our sweet friend Kirzden. Many of you joined us in praying for her during a very rough patch a while back. My heart grows a size when I see her smile.
Team Lina rocks!!
Today was one of our favorite Down Syndrome Association events: the Spring Picnic at the Zoo. It’s an event for member families, and it’s done up right. There’s a meal, time for mingling with families from all over the region, plus full access to the zoo. This year, there was face painting and a photo booth. The weather was perfect, and the kids are both old enough now to really enjoy the zoo. It was a fantastic day, and we are, as always, so grateful for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee.
Jumping like a kangaroo
Greeting a friend
Making a monkey
I could spend this post telling you about my day yesterday, when I lost one of my Mother’s Day rings at the Target checkout and had to hunt it down, then realized I’d locked my keys in the car on a day I’d forgotten my cell phone at home, then had to try to comfort a five-year-old who fell and cracked his head on the floor while we waited for daddy…
But really, I’d rather tell you about the Team Lina shirts we’re offering to support the Buddy Walk. The design was hand-drawn, and I think they are terribly fun. Wear your shirts to the Buddy Walk, or support Team Lina in style from afar! They come in a full range of kid and adult sizes and are $18/each, with all proceeds going to our Buddy Walk fundraising efforts.
Order your Team Lina shirts today!!
Yes, we’re all still sweltering in the summer heat, but good news: you can start planning for the Buddy Walk in October, when it will (hopefully) be delightfully cool and clear!
This year’s Nashville Buddy Walk is October 31, and we’re hoping local friends will join us for the event. It is such a fun time, and we’d love for you to experience the acceptance and joy the event offers. And of course, the Buddy Walk raises funds for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, which is a cause very dear to our hearts.
Register to walk or donate here!!
We joined something like 600 other people today for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee Spring Picnic at the Zoo. We did this last year – only it was a summer picnic then, and a lot hotter! – and it was so fun to see how much more Lina got out of the experience this year. My in-laws were able to join us, the weather was absolutely perfect, and the kids had a blast. We talked with plenty of families we know and met a few new ones.
We feel so lucky to have a local organization that offers these kinds of opportunities. We have landed in an amazing community, and these events carry such a palpable sense of acceptance and celebration. (A sort-of actual conversation Jon had: “You’re worried your kid will pull my kid’s hair? Hey, me, too! Maybe they’ll really go at it and cure each other!”) Parents of older kids pass down advice about IEP meetings, we stop to coo over the tiny newest members, we celebrate the recovery of kids who spent time in the hospital, we dance to MC Hammer and Taylor Swift, the kids eat too many cookies, we notice kids who look like older or younger versions of ours, we juggle plates and messes and tired little ones. It’s real and it’s joyful.
Everyone should get to experience a community like this.
Note: I wish I could share more pictures of this amazing group, but I don’t have releases to publicly post photos of other families and wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so without permission.
Took a fall and just needed a little mama love
The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee hosted a Summer Family Picnic at the Zoo for member families today. It was a great event, with about 400 people in attendance. I wish I’d taken the time to photograph the fantastic kids (and some adults) with Down syndrome who were there. I met several families with little ones Lina’s age. I love knowing Lina will grow up alongside other kids with Down syndrome. My hope is that she will be a fully-integrated part of her community, in church, in school and in our lovely city, but also strongly connected to a group of people who share this part of her experience. There were so, so many beautiful kids, as varied and full of life as any group of kids ever is. I think she will find many friends among them.
We brought along both sets of grandparents, two uncles and an aunt, and we took full advantage of our time at the zoo. Temps hit the low 90s, so we sweated it out and finally hauled our weary selves and our well-laden Radio Flyer out the exit a half-hour before closing. After a lovely Father’s Day dinner together at a little Persian restaurant, we ferried two exhausted kiddos home and talked about how awesome it is that our families enjoy being together. Also: this family has about the best collection of dads you’ll find anywhere.
Corin adored the carousel.
Lina did not.
An hour-and-a-half nap in the shade, and she was ready for the padded little-kid playground.
I intended to have lots of fun photos of our first Buddy Walk to share. It turned out, however, that taking the camera out to shoot photos would have risked water damage. So much for that perfect weather we expected… (Friday and Sunday were 65 and sunny, for the record.)
So the only photos from the day are the cell phone variety and… damp. Which is an accurate representation of the event.
We did have a few stretches of slightly drier and warmer weather. The event was celebrity-themed, so each person with Down syndrome got a chance to walk a little red carpet, which was surprisingly touching. The walk itself is a short parade around one end of Nashville’s Centennial Park. Cheerleaders were stationed along the path, and we enjoyed seeing the signs with pictures of so many adorable kiddos.
After the walk, we bravely soldiered through a soggy, chilled picnic lunch as temperatures dropped further. (I was the chicken. After scarfing enough food to stave off starvation, I rushed my unjacketed and half-numb self and the baby to the Jeep, where we waited in relative warmth for the real troopers to get everything packed up.) As soon as we got home, we started a fire in the fireplace and made ourselves some hot chocolate.
Even with the less-than-hospitable weather, we had a lot of fun. I want to say a special thank you to my sweet friend Rebecca, her husband Kirk and their brave kids, who hung in through the wet and chill to show their support. We’re already looking forward to next year, when we can put into use some of the fun ideas we got from other families who know how to do a Buddy Walk right.
And I want to say another thank you to every person who donated. Your contributions have gone to a truly deserving organization that does so much for people with Down syndrome in this community. Because of you, Lina’s first Buddy Walk was a definite success.
Thanks to some very generous people, we have met our Buddy Walk fundraising goal! The walk is tomorrow, and we have raised $1,240 for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed. Your donation matters to us and to all the families who benefit.
So tomorrow we experience our first Buddy Walk. The weather should be gorgeous, and we are excited. If you would like to join us, there is still time to register online, or you may register at the event tomorrow. (I believe there may be a charge for day-of registration?) And of course, there is still time for donations for anyone who wants to contribute.
Again, thank you to those of you who supported our first fundraising effort for the DSAMT. It means a great deal to us. Looking forward to sharing pictures of the big day!
Sorry to make this blog fundraising central for the next few weeks, but I will be posting regular reminders that we are raising funds online for the 2013 Buddy Walk on October 19. The majority of funds will go toward essential programs for people with Down syndrome and their families here in Middle Tennessee. The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee is doing great work, and our family directly benefits from their efforts. A small portion of funds will also go to the National Down Syndrome Society, which is doing great work at the national level.
I am in birthday party planning mode this week. In the rare quiet moments, I marvel that in two days, my Lina will be one year old. It doesn’t seem possible. I have a lot to say about that, but I’ll save it for an upcoming post. For now, I’ll just say that she is an amazing gift to our family, and we are so grateful for the support resources our community offers for her and families like ours. These organizations depend on the generosity of people who understand the importance of what they do. Your donation will mean the world to us as we celebrate one year with our sweet girl. THANK YOU for helping us reach our very optimistic fundraising goal!
And local people – come out and walk with us! It’s FREE if you register by September 19. We’re going to have a great time strolling around Centennial Park with a lot of other awesome people. Celebrate with us and be an in-person member of Team Lina!
REGISTER TO WALK HERE