Caroline knows Beau

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I know Beau- I am proud to say that I not only know Beau, but have an outstanding relationship with him. One of the best moments of my day is when he recognizes me, and I see the joy on his face making me feel like I made his day just by coming. Some people have life-changing situations or go to life-changing places, but I know Beau, who is a life changer, even if he doesn’t know it.

I can barely remember life before Beau, but I suppose it was just like going to any friend’s house. It was Ms. Amy, Mr. Ben, and Lillie and Emma. A lot of my friends’ families were like this. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard Ms. Amy was pregnant with Beau. After Beau was born, I knew he was different (only because Lillie told me) but I didn’t see how he was. I loved him like he was my own little brother, and every time I made him laugh, I felt so accomplished. I admired the way he lived life without any stress.

Beau is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Sure, he has his bad days, but who doesn’t? “Caroline!” He shouts, and he comes over to me, grin on his face. Sometimes people act like you aren’t worth their time, almost like they are above you somehow, but Beau makes me worth his time by acting like there is no one else he’d rather see.

Some people may shy away from Beau because he has Down Syndrome, but I hope someday they will accept these differences and become his friend. I think having a relationship with Beau is one of the best things that has happened to me, and I thank Ms. Amy and Mr. Ben for allowing me to.

 
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LeAnne knows Beau

I Know Beau- I love this title for many reasons; not just because I’m fortunate enough to call Beau my friend, but because I get to really think about what I “know” for sure about him.

Beau has been a family friend since his birth- actually longer. Even before he was born, my family (including my daughters who are good friends with Beau’s sisters) looked forward to his arrival with joy, anticipation, and hope that he could hold his own among lots of little girls.

Once he was born, he proved that he could hold his own and teach us a few things in the process. Things we couldn’t learn any other way but through experience. 

What we’ve experienced with Beau is, in most ways, typical of all 8 year old boys: he makes us laugh, is “active,” and cute as can be. He loves his sisters and wants to be with them all the time-even when other teenage girls are over and they escape to do teenage things. He teaches his little sister words, loves football and enjoys a good hot dog.

Not everything about Beau is typical, however, and these are the things for which I’m most grateful. Beau will always be real- he is always honest (through the good and the bad) and means it when he loves you or gives you a hug. He appreciates things and people just as they are. He has nothing to prove. He laughs easily. He doesn’t treat people differently based on appearance. He brings joy. 

I could spend a lifetime “telling” my children to look beyond appearances, to be open to others who seem different, and to seek out these qualities in all people. Knowing Beau brings these truths to life and we are blessed in the process.

I KNOW BEAU – Inspiring change one story at a time.

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This blog tells the story of our family’s journey raising awareness for the acceptance and inclusion of people living with intellectual disabilities.  

Our hope is that through sharing our story, people’s perceptions will change and the world will continue to realize that we are more alike than different.

In keeping with our mission, I am excited to announce a new feature on my blog called, I KNOW BEAU.

I KNOW BEAU will be a collection of testimonials written by people who know Beau and feel that their relationship with him has had a positive impact on their lives.

We believe this will be a powerful witness to the world that a person’s worth is not measured by what makes them different, but by the difference they make in the world.

Beau is a special little guy.  Much of the reason he’s so special is because of the relationships he has formed with others and the unconditional love he has received along the way.

Help us introduce Beau to the world and in doing so inspire others to form relationships with someone that has an intellectual disability.  Help us change people’s perceptions of the worth of people living with intellectual disabilities.  Help us promote the acceptance and inclusion of every person.

If you have a story you’d like to contribute, please message me. Thank you.

 

 

Dream Team

ImageFor years, I’ve watched our friends pack up their cars on Saturday mornings…cleats, helmets, jerseys…and head to the fields for their child’s baseball, tennis, football & soccer games.  I’ve watched and I’ve wondered if Beau would ever get the chance to be a part of this Saturday morning ritual — to practice, wear a jersey and maybe even score a touchdown.  This Saturday morning, on a football field, surrounded by a very special group of young men, Beau experienced all of this and more.  For the first time in his life, he was part of a team.  He was a Challenger!

Watching and playing football has always been a family favorite.   On Colt’s game days, you’ll find us in our jerseys hunkered down in front of the television with a huge bowl of popcorn.   Even our daughters enjoy practicing plays in the driveway with their Dad and Beau.  So when we learned that the local football league was starting a special needs team, you can imagine how excited we were.  This morning, it was our turn to pack up the car and head to the field to be a part of a team.

When we arrived at the field early this morning, we were happy to see some of Beau’s buddies from school.  A few boys, but sadly, not enough players to form one team, let alone two.  And then, like a scene out of “Field of Dreams” our local high school football team, the Hoggard Vikings, took to the field alongside our special little boys.  Dressed in their practice jerseys, the Vikings towered over our little guys, but that didn’t stop Beau from grabbing the football and charging into the end zone for a touch down.  Game on!  For the next hour, I witnessed sportsmanship at its very best –a group of young men and their coach that had volunteered their time and talents to make a difference in the life of my son and his buddies. 

When the practice ended, my husband, Ben, shared his heart-felt thanks with the team.  As tears welled up in his eyes, he thanked them for sharing their Saturday morning with us, but more importantly, he thanked them for showing Beau & his buddies respect. 

We’re already looking forward to next Saturday’s game and who knows, maybe, someday, we’ll be cheering for Beau under Friday night lights.  After what I witnessed today, I would be proud to one day call my son a Hoggard Viking.

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Honey Scrunch

ImageToday, the girls and I made a new friend.  She’s a thoughtful, intelligent, cheerful young woman who works part-time at a local gift shop.  When we arrived at the shop, we found our friend hard at work displaying an assortment of candied and spiced nuts for customers to sample.  She was eager to tell us about each variety and encouraged us to try her favorite, “Honey Scrunch.”  We had a wonderful conversation about family and school and of course, her job.  She was most proud of her job. 

The girls and I talked the whole way home about how much we enjoyed meeting our new friend and how impressed we were with her warm personality & her wonderful abilities.

Sadly, what we saw today is not the norm.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 92% of all persons with intellectual disabilities are not employed. 

This statistic is not acceptable. 

Anne Frank once said ~”Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be!  How much you can love!  What you can accomplish!  And what your potential is!”

Please join me in supporting companies that believe EVERYONE has potential.

The climb

ImageToday, our family began to climb a mountain. Our climb is in support of World Cerebral Palsy Day and the “mountain” is actually a challenge issued by the UCP to help raise awareness and funds for people living with cerebral palsy.  For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society.  For the next thirty days, our family will wear pedometers to count our steps in order to reach goals, summits and ultimately reach the highest peak. 

We do this in honor of a very special little boy named Lucas.  Lucas is my nephew, the middle child to my brother Charlie and his beautiful wife, Catherine.  He’s a special little boy for many reasons, the least of which is that he has cerebral palsy.  More importantly, he is special in ways only the heart can measure.  He always has a smile to share, a hand to hold, and a laugh to brighten your day.  He is everything that is good in the world embodied in one little boy.  While Lucas is physically limited, his spirit knows no boundaries.  He is truly an angel among us. 

It’s not often enough that I tell Catherine and Charlie how much I admire both of them and how proud I am to share this journey of raising a special needs child with them.  Their endurance in the face of challenges makes climbing this mountain worth every step.  They are exceptional parents who inspire me at every turn. 

As Andy Rooney once said, “I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”  Here’s to the climb and especially to Lucas.