“Wow. That’s amazing.”
Wow is another of Rachel’s commonly used remarks. We just returned from the NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society) Buddy Walk on Washington. I’ve blogged about the Buddy Walk before and this wasn’t a Buddy Walk in the sense of a local celebration of the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome and the opportunity to raise funds and awareness. Buddy Walk on Washington (BWW) is a national celebration of abilities and the opportunity to raise awareness among political leaders and push for them to support legislation that benefits individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Rachel’s words of wow and amazing are the best descriptors I know. Over 200 people joined together in our nation’s capital to present our case to our legislators. Our legislators joined us and not just those receiving awards for their efforts.
We have many senators and congressman/women from both parties who are on our team and working to pass legislation that will help people with Down syndrome to live “real lives” as I say.
I had the opportunity to make some remarks at the NDSS Awards dinner and this is loosely what I said: “Wow. That’s amazing. Let me tell you what is amazing. What is amazing is that here is a girl who grew up in small town Rose Bud Arkansas. She came to Washington DC as a 4-H member in 1978 and fell in love with DC and advocacy. She didn’t know then that God had a different plan than she imagined for those advocacy efforts. And today I have the privilege of advocating for people with Down syndrome. I am thankful to Rachel who is truly the amazing one. She reminds me pretty often that there is joy in the journey. I do this so that Rachel and the other 400,000 individuals with Down syndrome in this country can live real lives. I married way up and I am thankful to my husband Jonathan. His love and support make it possible to be able to do what I do. I am thankful for the thousands of family who knowingly and unknowingly allow me to speak on behalf of them. I consider it the greatest honor and privilege to be able to represent them and to be trusted to speak for them.” There was more but that was the gist of it.
While everyone should, I supposed not everyone can go to DC. Most people can send a letter, make a call or write an email. For any multitude of reasons, most people do not. Not everyone had the good fortune of growing up in 4-H and learning how to do advocacy. Not everyone was given the gift of gab. But I will tell you that I have watched many mommas and daddy’s become grizzly bears and find their voice to speak for their child. I have walked into meeting with congressman when I could feel the person next to me trembling with nervousness about speaking to this person who they elected. It can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. To quote my husband, “Pretty cool day. Regardless of the political mess, today I have met U.S. Senators and congressman and shared views on disabilities. We met Sen. Lindsey Graham walking down one of the tunnels. To have the freedom where this can still happen, we are still lucky in my opinion”
I would say we are blessed. We live in country where we can walk the talk and we should.