As the holidays draw near, and the end of the year is upon us, I wanted to take a moment to express just how thankful I am to all of you who have joined us on The Road so far. We have been blessed with many things this year. Here are a few of them: 1) Friends, family, and fellow advocates, 2) Community, 3) Technology, 4)Opportunity, and 5) Hope!
1) Friends, family, and fellow advocates
The past year brought so many of us together in terms of advocacy. The biggest accomplishment (in my opinion) was the passing of Ethan’s Law! These pictures say more than a thousand words. They represent just a few of the individuals and families who participated in some way to make change happen in Ethan’s name. We have the premiere of the documentary film by Edward Rhodes to look forward to in the very near future! Also, we’ll be following the progress of the Ethan Saylor alliance for self-advocates as educators and we’ll let you know when we have something to share.
We got to meet a lot of new friends and fellow advocates this year. Josh and I participated in the Buddy Walk on Washington hosted by the NDSS.
Last summer, Mardra and I were fortunate enough to participate in the NDSC annual conference in Phoenix. There’s no describing the feeling of belonging you get at one of these meetings. It was the first time I actually got to see Mardra in person! I’m so thankful that our community has opportunities like this to come together for a shared purpose.
While we were in Phoenix, Marcus got to meet a very important ally in our efforts to raise awareness on #RaceAndDownSyndrome. I’m especially grateful to Beverly Johnson for being such a great advocate for people of color who have Down syndrome!
I’m thankful that when I’ve put out the call for help, so many have responded! We had two projects this year that I couldn’t have pulled off without the help of our community.
The first was our April A to Z Blogging Challenge. For 26 days, we wrote and had guest bloggers discuss topics of importance in our community. Our theme song was “All Together Now!” and it truly was a team effort.
If you missed the party, you can find all of the posts on our website under “A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015.”
The other project was our October Down Syndrome Awareness Month photo campaign.
As we travel down this road together I am constantly in awe of what a difference technology has made in the lives of caregivers. We now have a way to reach out, find, and support each other that didn’t exist when my son was born. Not only do I have friends that I would never have met if it weren’t for social media, I have a new way of learning and staying up-to-date on issues that are important to me.
We love to share information here on The Road!
This year at the 321 eLearning conference we helped make sure there was a full program of topics that pertain to adults with Down syndrome. We also started a new venture called “The Road Scholars” which we hope to continue next year. Our first course, “Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome” took place recently. We’ll be offering it again in the future in case you missed it.
This year brought new opportunities for so many of our friends!
Marcus published his new book “Black Day: The Monster Rock Band” and went on a book tour where he got to read and sign copies in lots of different cities across the U.S.!
Devon went to some amazing places including the United Nations and The White House! What’s more, she started studying marine biology in college!
Sean is on the road to stardom! He’s one of a seven-member cast of young adults who have Down syndrome that will be appearing in “Born This Way” – an upcoming TV documentary series on A&E. Be sure to tune in on December 8th at 10 pm (ET and PT) to see the first episode!
With all this fantastic stuff going on, there’s so many reasons to be hopeful for the future! I’m thankful that I get to be a part of such a wonderful, caring community that is growing by leaps and bounds. We’ve made some real progress this year! As our network grows, we’re really making an impact in the lives of parents and caregivers, and ultimately their loved ones who have Down syndrome.
For that, I can’t thank you enough!
I’m grateful for all the great moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and caregivers who have joined me on The Road. I’m indebted to my partner and friend who makes it all possible, Mardra. She works so hard, sometimes behind the scenes, she’s an inspiration and driving force on all of our efforts. The Road may be my calling, but I seriously couldn’t do it without her!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!