*Today’s post is by our Guest, Pamela Arnoldson


HI! My name is Pamela Arnoldson, I am a director for Buddy Cruise Inc. I was asked by a member of your community, Mardra, to compose a blog this month. I am honored and I have to admit a bit nervous…I’ve never blogged! But I will give it my best shot as this month’s theme is about Down
syndrome & vacations two things I am passionate about
. Which is actually how Buddy Cruise came to be. My son Joseph has Down syndrome and is the inspiration for this unique non-profit that hosts its annual conference on board a cruise ship!

As many of you may know it is often hard for families to find a
vacation scenario to meet all family member’s interests and needs. A Buddy Cruise does just that. There is something for all ages AND abilities! 

When you first step foot on a cruise ship you are given a guide to that day’s activities.

Then, each evening you will receive one that details the events
of the following day.  The cruiseline plans days and nights full of fun and excitement. On a Buddy Cruise you can take advantage of all the ship has to offer PLUS there is an entire schedule of interactive workshops, events and activities exclusively designed for our attendees!

My son really loved an excursion we did with our group to interact
with dolphins. He also LOVES to dance… And there is no shortage of music! Between all that the ship has planned and all that a Buddy Cruise offers…you will not have a dull moment!

I’m sure that many of you over the years have taken part
in, helped plan or organize a local Buddy Walk. At our event we host the
BuddyWalk at Sea! It is held above the pool deck and has absolutely breathtaking 360° views of the ocean. It is an awareness walk and it is a wonderful feeling to have guests – non Buddy Cruisers, come up and walk with us, tell us their story of the “kid down the street” or their “Uncle” or “Niece” with Down syndrome. Last year there was even a crowd that formed along the track to cheer us on with each lap. 

Its not just the BuddyWalk that generates such excitement…it’s the group itself. We have received many emails form passengers who were onboard during a Buddy Cruise who have said their life is better after spending it with our families. Several have even started reserving their yearly vacations with Buddy Cruise just to be a part of the joy. 
Thank you for this opportunity and I hope to meet each of you on board one day soon; not just for a vacation…for a life changing  experience.

 I’ve asked a few of the parents of adult children with  Down syndrome to share their thoughts on how a Buddy Cruise vacation has touched
  their lives.  For more  testimonials and info on our next event visit www.buddycruise.org. 

“Buddy Cruise is an AWESOME experience that my son and I
look forward to all year long! It provides a wonderful setting and opportunity to connect with families in similar situations.”
– Dawn and Myron Sawyer

“Jason, Yaniv and Raymond (all in their 30’s) are so excited, looking forward to the Buddy Cruise in October! I think Yaniv is already packed! 
They talk a lot about which activities they are going to enjoy the most
  (I think the Karaoke nights win out each time!). They love that I leave them to their own devices to make their own decisions about where to go on the ship.  They feel very independent and grown up (but totally safe). 
That’s why this Cruise is so perfect for our young adults! 
I can relax knowing they can be off around the ship – having good safe
fun.  I am nearby if they need me but it’s so nice that they usually DON’T need me very much at all!  So I can have some fun of my own!!
- Emily Perl Kingsley

“Going on the Buddy Cruise with a group of like-minded parents of children with DS is a total blast–both for my now 21 year old son
  and me!  He has a great time with the kids his own age and I get to visit with other parents and their children. He can be himself and we’ve found that he is totally accepted by the other guests on the ship.  We make lots
of friend and we get lots of smiles! There are always fun activities to
participate in on the ship and off. What a blessing! 
We love it! We sailed on the first Buddy Cruise on 2008 and are eagerly
anticipating our 7th Buddy Cruise this October!!
 -  Alan Otto

“My son Mike, who has Down Syndrome & autistic behaviors, and is now 24 years old.  We first heard about Buddy Cruise about 5 years ago & decided to try it – we got hooked.  He absolutely loves it!  He is very shy, but  comes out of his shell during these cruises.  The people are so warm and caring & he picks up on it and connects – and has so much fun. 
The BC workshop “Down Right Funny” gets him out of his seat & telling
a joke into a mic on a stage! Never thought I would see that happen. 
The ice cream social and dances are just a couple of the social
  activities he loves.  There are workshops to choose from that are informative & fun. Buddy Cruise 2014 will be our 5th year on the cruise. 
It has become an important part of our lives and we look forward this
year to seeing old friends and to meet new ones!”
 -  Sandra Gifford

“We think one of the neat things about the Buddy Cruise is that other people on the cruise ship get to see our adult children and their  families sharing time and having fun together, acting appropriately -  the rest of the ship is a captive audience of thousands who have the opportunity to view Down syndrome in a positive light!”
 - Mike and Nancy Moody