This year ORPHAN Sunday just so happened to fall on the same day as the Orange County Buddy Walk at the Angel Stadium- where our cities unite to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness as well as promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome. In honor of the charity or, more preferably, a person, you raise funds and/or gather a group to Walk (about a half mile) around the perimeter.
The first year I walked, back in 2006 with Jacob, there must have been scarcely 10 families. This year armies of people flooded that field. Think tailgate party, but with real purpose! It was absolutely amazing to witness… families/friends coming together for these precious cherubs with Downs. VALUED and LOVED, not abandoned or aborted.
More than that, something about this crowd screamed, not just camaraderie, but FAMILY. No really, for the actual Walk the announcer directed the masses to head toward the perimeter of the stadium, at which point people up and left everything - purses, strollers, food, blanket/chairs - bottlenecking the exits, they paraded with pride and joy and a sort of trust of one another.
As we strolled through a maze of pop-up tents donning banners of clever team names with faces to match, we scanned for one in particular. Remember the cutie-pie with DS I met at our Yard sale?
Did I ever tell you the whole family came by the sale the next day while we were closing up shop? Within two seconds of meeting me, her dad admits he’s been reading this blog and how with tears in his eyes he sent an email to his work asking if they could offer anything to help us get Ellie home.
Sure enough, I received an email not long after that: whatever amount they could raise through his company for the upcoming OC Buddy Walk will be matched and donated to our FSP through Reece's Rainbow.
Hold the phone, a matching GRANT??? I might've peed my pants. I'd JUST met these people!
Okay Lord, I get it. Surely I was not mistaken the morning of our yard sale when you clearly stated, “It’s not so much about the dollar you make, but the people you will meet.” Um Hello! Points for God!
(in case you are catching up: we didn't make a ton from the yard sale alone, rather, the people we met FROM the yard sale.)
Over by 3rd base we finally spotted Sophia’s Entourage! We, of course, were welcomed with open arms and trays of sandwiches and cookies and cupcakes. We chatted, walked the perimeter, took pics, ate, played ball, and perused the numerous resources for parent’s of children with Down’s Syndrome.
It really was such a beautiful, unique event... one we will most likely attend for a lifetime.
wish i had more time to tell you about:
:: how we bumped into a Reece’s Rainbow success story – a resourceful couple and their adorable daughter Lona from the Ukraine.
:: how it became the perfect opportunity to expose our kids to this part of Ellie.. to soften their hearts to special needs – for starters, they are learning sign language.
:: how walking alongside a herd of what felt like extended family provoked a certain unexpected pride. I am a soon-to-be mother of a child with Down's Syndrome and I am so proud to be part of this... for her. One day soon she will know what it's like to be embraced, and loved, and given worth.
:: the idea of propping our very own tent right next to Sophia’s Entourage in a year’s time (praying)…what will our team name be? Ellie’s crew/gang/brigade/troops/army/_____?
:: how cool it was to randomly run into a friend from our small group and meet her 21 month old nephew with Downs… cutest thing ever!
:: how the kids swung a bat over the same home plate the Angel’s bat from and how Evan had no clue how to run the bases, but instead chased the ball. (LOL- priceless).
Tonight I came here to share with you all, with eagerness I came, and maybe a hint of fear (praying I don’t butcher the Lord’s work). But now, as I conclude, I’m awed, yet again....
The money they raised for the matching grant was deposited into our FSP as I pieced this post together.
We just hit 12k, my friends! A HUGE thanks to Darienne, Arnold and Sophia. I want to scream how amazing you guys are. THANK YOU!
And geez God, seriously? ah-mazed. thank.you.☺