Walk This Saturday….discover the UPS of DOWNS

by October 17, 2012 • 6 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever met anyone with Down Syndrome? If it wasn’t for the work of the Special Olympics or the warm-hearted cheerleader on GLEE would you even know what it looked like?

I think many of us would agree that fear comes from the unknown and being in small town USA, we are insulated from a lot of unknowns, like genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, we don’t understand.

But did you know here in Bay County there are as many as 7 new families with children born with Down Syndrome?
On a national level one in every 733 babies in the United States is born with it, making it the most common genetic condition. About 6,000 babies are born with Down’s in the U.S every year.

But how would you know that? I didn’t until I spoke to a couple mother’s whose lives were affected….for the better, by the way. One woman, Shannon, whose family frequently visits our beaches, and hopes to call it home some day, shared with me about her experience very candidly.

 

 

Shannon’s son Lucas on our Beaches

 

After giving birth she looked at her baby Lucas, who is now the absolute light unto her path, and she knew before the doctor told her. She was terrified, she broke down into a “crying, snotty mess” she said. She realized that as a mother, one of her primal fears were ignited, something was “wrong” with her baby. But “wrong” turned out to be just “right” and the biggest blessing of her and her husband’s lifetime.

After the hormonal rush of pregnancy had subsided and she was able to reflect on her gutteral reaction she concluded most of her horror was based on pure ignorance. She had never met anyone with Down Syndrome before, she didn’t know anything about it, how was she going to take care of our baby? Isn’t that every mother’s fear that we will not somehow be equipped, i.e, good enough to take care of our children?

As I spoke with Shannon and she shared her story, her candor touched me, I thanked her for it. She simply said…”you know, your story is your story.”

Those words hit me in the face and I hope they leave a mark on yours. Your story is your story and it can be as sad or scary or beautiful as you want it to be. But before it is written, when it is still in the beginning and you don’t know what is going to happen…it can be pretty scary.

But it doesn’t have to be, you can reach out and find people to talk to, learn more about Aspergers and Autism and Down Syndrome and all of those things that terrify us because we don’t know any better. For Shannon, she read the blog by Kelle Hampton, a mother she not only connected to, but made her realize what an amazing gift she had been given.

Thankfully there are organizations that raise awareness of these issues that affect so many of new mother’s today.  October happens to be Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

If you want to learn more about Down Syndrome and have a fun, family friendly day outside, you are in luck for this Saturday, October 20th is the Annual Buddy Walk put on by Acton Up with Downs at Aaron Bessant Park next to Pier Park.

There will be lots to do at this event..Music…Food..
Children’s games and crafts…entertainment for all!
Dr. Shane of WPAP will be the MC and the Parrots Club will play music. Prosperity Bank will be keep our bellies full with hot dogs and hamburgers for all.

To find out more about this event, go to http://www.actonupwithdowns.org/ or just show up at Aaron Bessant Park this Saturday, October 20th at 9 am.

As one local parent put it….”Come out and learn more about people with Down Syndrome…and find out that we are all more alike than different.”

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1 whitney botkins October 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

This is my sister and nephew!! what an insperation my sister is too me and so many! we look at lucas and only see him for the happy 3 yr. old he is!! he has been a blessing to our family and we cherish him. Thank you lucas for teaching us so many things that wouldnt have been possible if you were not born with down syndrome.

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2 Karen Smith October 17, 2012 at 11:11 pm

We too are blessed and I hope this blog post will spark some conversation of what a precious gift life is ALL LIFE!!! WE never know what that person is going to teach us to bring into our lives. I have learned so much from God’s precious kids and angels that are put in our path.

I am so happy when people call us and ask us to write about the things that are important to them. There are so many amazing people in this community that love to give of their hearts, their resources and their lives.

So very thankful and meeting Shannon all those years ago was a gift and thankful she keeps up with me from time to time.

God is good all the time and so thankful that I can share that here.

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3 Britt Matthews October 18, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thank you Whitney for your kind comments! I feel BLESSED for having spoken to your sister! She touched my heart too! Wish there were more momma’s like her!

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4 Shannon October 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thank you guys for your very sweet comments! We are all just moms trying to be the best we can be for our kids! 🙂 Grateful for three beautiful momma’s with their own story to tell and also very inspiring!!! Have fun at the DS walk and take in all the wonderful souls! Xo

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5 Harriette Reed October 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

This is such a great cause. I am so happy to see this in Panama City Beach. Please let us know how we can donate to the cause in the future. We all have to work together as a community to bring these events to pass. Thank you.

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6 Debra Forand October 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful story for our precious angels! The walk on saturday was a huge success! As a parent to a 10 year old with Down syndrome and Autism ( dual diagnosed) I want to thank everyone that came out and supported it !!!

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