Safe Sitter

Last week while we were at the Buddy Walk on Washington, we had the opportunity to speak briefly with Chris Burke. We first met Chris Burke when Rachel was about 14 months old and we participated in our first Buddy Walk:  TheNDSS New York City Buddy Walk.

It was the first time her picture appeared on Times Square as part of Ben’s Angels and a very generous friend wanted us to be a part.


That was my first trip to New York City.  I must admit that like Rachel I fell in love with it too! Chris has been around at many of the Down syndrome events we have gone to through the years. He is an exceptional role model and spokesperson for those with Down syndrome. At Buddy Walk on Washington, he focused on speaking with Rachel and encouraging her, and as always I was impressed with him.

Chris Burke is big time in the Down syndrome world. To my knowledge and Gail Williamson of DSiAM can correct me if I’m wrong, he was the first actor with Down syndrome cast in a major role on a major television show on a major network. Long before I knew Rachel would exist or even knew that Jonathan existed, I watched the critically acclaimed “Life Goes On.”  Chris played Corky teenaged boy with Down syndrome. The show portrayed a realistic storyline about his life including education, social and familial struggles. For some reason one of the episodes that I remember vividly was a babysitting episode. If memory serves correctly, Corky wanted to babysit. There was some apprehension on the part of everyone, but he was given the opportunity. There was a power outage but he knew what to do.  The families couldn’t find him or those he was sitting and were panicked. They were found safe and sound at a police station or something of the sort.

When I saw Chris last week I told him that I had been thinking about his babysitting episode and that it had been one of my favorites.  Perhaps it is on my brain because Rachel wants to be a babysitter. Of course she would want to babysit like her friends. Of course she wants to babysit because anyone who could love and care for Sally for 12 years and have such a deep desire to be a teacher and an even deeper desire to be a mommy – well, of course she would want to babysit.  There are several words in that sentence that make me a bit nervous and sometimes sad.  However, I learned early on not to be too obsessive about things that were in the future or I could do nothing about today.  Today is now for the babysitting though. Today and tomorrow, Rachel and Savanna (Just Like You – Down Syndrome) are taking a Safe Sitter class. She even has a gig lined up. Her former para Ms. Stefanie has two little girls, and she told Rachel she could come over and they can practice.

Still, I must admit that though I am not paralyzed by fear like I was for that first audition, I am nervous about what the next two days and potential babysitting gigs might look like. I’ll keep you posted on what Rachel teaches all of us though.

Rachel is such a good momma. She took Baby Sally to meet Clifford. Rachel was four here!

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