National Down Syndrome Congress 40th Annual Convention in DC

Ben had the honor of singing our song while being backed-up by “The Miracles”, a choir from Senatobia, MS at the National Down Syndrome Congress‘ 40th Annual Convention in DC. “The Miracles” is comprised of 24 talented men and women living with intellectual disabilities. What a blessing to hear our song sung by angels.Image

One of my favorite bloggers, Ellen Seidman (Love That Max), shared this message on Parents.com about this event:  Thank you, Ellen!

“The National Down Syndrome Congress—And Its Amazing Guest Stars”

I am madly in love with the family who created the below video, The Wrights, not to mention the message they’re spreading. Parents Amy and Ben have four children; their youngest—Beau, 7, and Bitty, 2—have Down syndrome. As Amy says, “Since their arrival, we have made it our mission to advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and to help spread a message of inclusion and acceptance.”Many have spoken out against the use of the word “retard,” but loving videos like this (not to mention a self-composed song!) do an incredible job of spreading the word to end the word.  Amy wrote “It Starts With A Voice,” and that’s Ben singing it. Proceeds from sales of the song, available on iTunes, benefit The Special Olympics. They will be performing it at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention, happening next week in Washington, D.C., from July 19 to July 22. It’s the NDSC’s 40th convention, and in celebration the organization will be live-streaming 17 workshops and sessions for those unable to attend. You can read more about it and register (free) here.

I have a feeling The Wrights will be getting a standing ovation.

As Amy has said, “I am so passionate about spreading this message that I can’t sleep at night. I think, ‘What else can I do? How can I make the world a better place for my children and for all the others I love?’”

A-men.

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Best Buddies International Leadership Conference

ImageAs parents, we try to expose our children to experiences that will leave an impression on their lives. Experiences that help form their character and shape them into human beings that care enough to make a difference in the world. Attending the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference Opening Ceremony was one of those experiences, not only for our children, but for us parents, too. Imagine…1500+ students and leaders gathered in an auditorium chanting and cheering “Inclusion Revolution” on the top of their lungs. Standing ovations, one after another, for talented speakers, dancers and even a rock band, all living with an intellectual or developmental disability. An audience energized by the powerful leadership of Anthony K. Shriver, C.E.O. of the organization, and a special guest appearance by Glee’s, Lauren Potter. An audience full of people celebrating diversity but more importantly, the human spirit. There was an energy in the room that we’ve never experienced before, one that our family will never forget. Best Buddies International, thank you for inviting us to share our song at your Opening Ceremony. It was an honor!

We are proud to be a part of the Inclusion Revolution!

2012 National APSE Convention with Temple Grandin

ImageBen performed “It Starts With A Voice” at the 2012 National APSE Conference in Arlington VA. This organization focuses exclusively on employment opportunities for people with disabilities. He sang at the opening ceremony, where Temple Grandin, author, professor and International speaker on the topic of autism and employment was the Keynote speaker.  Lillie & Emma Grace enjoyed meeting Ms, Grandin, too!

The first Benefit Concert

On June 14, 2012, Ben & I hosted & performed a Benefit Concert at Thalian Hall for the Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.  The concert was a family event where Ben & I sang Broadway music intertwined with powerful narration delivered by our two oldest daughters and our thirty-one year old friend, Brian, who has Down Syndrome.  The event raised thousands of dollars for the campaign, but more importantly it raised awareness.  The focus of the evening was acceptance and inclusion where attendees were educated on the campaign and encouraged to make the pledge to “End the Word”.  The evening culminated with the World Premiere of our new song, “It Starts With a Voice.” 100% of the evening’s proceeds were donated to Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.