My blog has moved

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Thank you:)

Drip… Kick… Drip… Kick

If you were in Florida yesterday… you probably got wet.

Here we are driving to our first professional soccer game. Um, isn't Florida the Sunshine State?

We were on our way to St. Petersburg which meant we had to cross the bridge. The big bridge. The one the Travel Channel rated #3 in its show “Top Ten Bridges in the World.” The Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Normally, I look forward to the view and when the kids are with me, I make them try to capture pictures of the pelicans that fly alongside the cars as they fish. But this time even my husband was a little nervous about being four hundred feet in the air with sheets of rain pouring over us.

Luckily when we got there. The rain had decided to take a break.

Florida clouds are awesome.

We found the stadium and Elle was whisked away to join the other athletes that were representing CAF. The Challenged Athletes Foundation.

So I took pictures of my beautiful boy who is now as tall as me. It’s a unique experience watching your little boy grow into a young man in three short years. Suddenly there’s facial hair, a deep voice and strength greater than your own. I once made the mistake of trying to wrestle with him. Although, that strength sure comes in handy when I have a trunk full of groceries.

I also took pictures of the soccer players because Elle told me if I got some good ones, she’d post my blog on her Facebook profile for her friends to see. She has a LOT of friends which means more traffic for my blog so here it is…

And here too.

Thank you, daughter.

After a short delay for lightning and rain, the ceremony began. Back in 2007 Elle and Eric ran in a Disney 10K. Elle was in her every day chair. A representative from CAF spotted her, called us, and asked if Elle would like a racing wheelchair. We said, “what’s a racing wheelchair?” Three years later CAF helped us convince the FHSAA that high school track programs should include wheelchair racing. Elle made this video for CAF and now coaches across the state are encouraged to get teens with ambulatory challenges (SCI, Spina Bifida, Amputee) involved in their track programs.

A double rainbow appeared over all the athletes as if to say all is right in a world where able-bodied and challenged athletes compete side by side.

Puerto Rico won the game 2-1. Puerto Rico is a great place to visit. I know because I’ve been there.

Don’t tell anyone but we didn’t stay for the entire game. We would have except it kept raining and even though we remembered our umbrellas we couldn’t take them into the stadium. When the guard told me this, I gave him my “Are you serious? Have you glanced at the sky?” look. To which he replied “Imagine, two thousand umbrellas.” Okay. He had a point. When it was obvious the rain was going to continue, we skedaddled.

The experience was enough to leave us wanting more… so, Eric is getting us tickets to a soccer game in Barcelona. Yep, the Rausin family is going back to Europe. We are Barcelona bound in a few weeks. If anyone reading this lives in Barcelona or if anyone has ever been to Barcelona, please send me some tips. So far, I only have our plane tickets and an apartment.

In the meantime be sure to check back on Wednesday. I’m going to post my favorite dessert of all time. The one where I could actually sit down and devour the entire pan myself. I’m making it tomorrow and I’ve been excited about it for days! Of course it includes chocolate. YUM!!!

Integration in Sports

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Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Today is the first track meet of the season at North Fort Myers High. I’ll be working the concession stand and darting out to take pictures of all the high school athletes-and smiling. Arielle will be among them thanks to the FHSAA and CAF. (Florida High School Athletic Association and Challenged Athletes Foundation)

It is my hope that every year will bring more wheelchair athletes to our high school track programs. More teens across Florida with unique mobility abilities will have the opportunity to experience high school team sports. It is also my hope that those athletes who want to go on and accept the next challenge will be granted the same opportunity in college.

Thank you to everyone who helped and took the first steps in faith two years ago to make this happen. A special thank you to Rob at the Reeve Foundation who helped our voices be heard.  http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.mtKZKgMWKwG/b.5036577/k.5A52/Standing_Up_for_What_is_Right.htm

This year, information was sent out to all the Florida high school track coaches, telling them of the new opportunities for high school challenged athletes. Please help spread the word and give kids an opportunity that could change their life. It only takes two clicks to share this article with others.

If you live outside of Florida, you can still help.
There are only a handful of states that allow wheelchair racing in their high school track programs. A  little courage and some unified voices can create change.

If you want to check out some professional wheelchair athletes, take a peek at the University of Illinois team. Several of them will compete in the 2012 Paralympics. http://anjaliforberpratt.com/sponsor/university-illinois-track-and-roadracing

Fantasizing is Not Cheating

I’m talking donuts here. Big round chocolate covered donuts. I’ve been dreaming about them for days.

It all started back in August when Elle and I went to Illinois to the National Junior Disability Championship. We were lectured on the eating habits of athletes. Elle was told that if she wanted to be faster she was going to have to drop the pounds.

At that point, I was going to the gym several times a week and Elle was racing many miles a day. We both were in good shape. Rarely did we drink soda, we never ate fast food, meat was not in our vocabulary and I thought we were eating healthy.

Knowing her aspirations for a successful racing career, I said we would lose weight together. I remembered a trainer at the gym telling me to allow myself one day a week for sweets. He said I needed to shock my body and not let my body fall into a routine. I needed to change things up in order to see results. Well, my thinking then was, I work out so I can eat whatever I want.

I told Elle we were going to have sweets only once a week. I didn’t think this would be a big deal because we weren’t eating a lot of junk. Boy was I wrong! We came home, started our new diet and the first night after dinner I craved everything from mint chocolate chip ice-cream to potato chips. Technically chips weren’t sweets but I knew better and included my love for Cape Cod chips and tortilla chips in my sweets category.

For the first week, I had to have sugarless pudding just so the craving would subside. I looked with great anticipation to sweet day and started my morning with a Toblerone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Heaven! The day after sweet day, I would find myself staring into our pantry thinking, I didn’t want any stinking herbal tea to help calm me before bed. I wanted a giant banana split with gobs of chocolate sauce pooling in the bowl.

The first few weeks were tough and the scale only dropped two pounds. I was not happy. However, I did quickly realize how much sugar and junk food was actually in my diet. I had been under the illusion that I was eating well.

Then one morning after about a month of our new journey something wonderful happened. The scale dropped. A week after that I was at my lowest weight ever. I felt stronger, healthier and since it had been over five weeks my desire for sweets declined. In fact I ate less and less sugar on my official sweet days.

Arielle too has tasted success. She has dropped pounds and has become faster. This last 5K she completed she beat last year’s time by over three minutes.

We both feel that we accomplished the challenge of one day a week sweets so we have set our goal higher. I’m going for two weeks and she is going for three. So far, I’ve made it a week and a half but every time I drive by Dunkin Donuts….. MMMMM!

I had been content with the way I was. I never set out to change but life presented me with a challenge and I took it. I’m glad I did because I never would have known the strength I feel now. I would have continued with my habits not realizing what I could be. A door opened.

Yesterday, at the gym I found myself saying to an acquaintance-“I’ve always wanted to try those push-ups you do. I’m kind of afraid I won’t be able to do more than two.” I’ve watched him for months, prop his legs on a bench and do hundreds of push-ups-wondering if I could do the same. Little did I know he was a closet trainer. He had me doing sets of ten push-ups until I had reached one hundred. One hundred push-ups! I was hoping I could do four or five just so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. Soon I was getting a new lecture. This time it was about me not working hard enough at the gym. Apparently, I’m supposed to be in pain or there will be no gain. Today, I’m in pain! My shoulders are throbbing.

Monday, I’ll return for more push-ups and on the seventeenth I will enjoy a chocolate donut because I have discovered that the advice the first trainer gave me two years ago was correct. In order to see results, I must allow for change, even when I’m content.

Thank you FHSAA!

This journal is a peek into my crazy brain. You never know what I’m going to write about next. I never know. Every article deals with some aspect of my life. My family, Mystic, substituting, track, pursuing a writing career, exercising, spirituality and ducks, I have written about them all. I feel like a juggler with many balls up in the air. Each day one ball falls closer to me, I catch it and throw it back up and wait for the next one to fall. It’s all about balance.

Today’s ball-Wheelchair Racing- High School Track and How it all Began

My daughter Arielle joined PE in seventh grade. A wonderful teacher by the name of Ms. Black encouraged her to become active. Arielle had been paralyzed in a car accident in fourth grade and she was still dealing with her new limitations. Ms. Black treated her like everyone else and challenged her to strive beyond her limitations. Arielle decided to participate in 5K’s and middle school track and field.

I was a new teacher at the time and spent many hours in the classroom and at home working. Arielle came to me and wanted to join her middle school track team. I thought it was a good idea but it certainly was not my main focus. I was busy. She told me she needed special permission because she was in a wheelchair. I went to my principal and she told me whom I should talk to in the district. I called him and waited for his response.

Meanwhile…..

A few days later, I was driving over the Veterans Memorial Bridge to work listening to one of my favorite radio stations. The DJ came on and started talking about North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts and one of their students. This was my daughter’s school. Suddenly, I realized they were talking about my daughter, Arielle. A mom at her school had started a petition to allow Arielle to be on her middle school track team. She got the radio station involved and there I was in my car listening to people debate over whether or not my daughter should be allowed on the middle school track team. I was in shock and later in a bit of hot water because I worked for the school district.

All of this attention and commotion made me very uneasy. At the time, I am ashamed to say, I was thinking more about me than Arielle. They let her on the track team and I thought it was over.

Arielle and her dad decided to race in Disney’s 15K, Race for the Taste. We all went to Orlando and I watched on the side lines while she wheeled in and finished the race in her every day chair. It was amazing. They had DJ’s cheering all the runners as they came in and one DJ kept saying “Someone has to get this girl a racing wheelchair.” I had no idea what he was talking about.

Two days later we received a call from Robin, a representative of The Challenged Athletes Foundation. She explained to us that there are wheelchair athletes all over the world. They helped us get a racing wheelchair for Arielle. Arielle’s spark for racing became a raging fire. She loved her new racing wheelchair. I was finally realizing this was more than just a phase for Arielle and she needed my support.

I decided to slow down and pay attention to what was really important in my life. When Arielle entered high school, I left teaching. Track season came and I mistakenly thought that since her eighth grade year went so smoothly, so would her freshman year. Not so. This time, I was awake to the challenges and the importance racing held to my daughter and I became her advocate. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have always wanted to get along with everyone and not make waves. I had to make waves. I had to speak up. I did and along the way upset some people. Luckily, I had other caring individuals speak up too.(Reeve Foundation!) I often think of the man who told me Arielle was not even allowed to wear her school track uniform. When he said that to me on the phone, I felt a fire within that fueled every email and meeting and phone call I made. Looking back, I suppose it was a good thing he said what he said. It ignited my passion. They let her on the team to race alone and compete against her own time. I watched my brave child take her racing wheelchair onto the track alone and wheel around in front of a crowd, most of whom had never seen a racing wheelchair. Suddenly I understood what bittersweet meant. Bitter because life was difficult for her and once again she was dealing with an obstacle and sweet because she was on the team and I knew she would be an inspiration to many. Sweet because she was so brave.

One school allowed Arielle to race on the track with other girls. Charlotte High. That was a day I will never forget. Most everyone cheered her on and supported her. Still Arielle overheard a girl say “She better not run over my toes!” I bring this up only because I want to show how difficult it can be to be different and to put yourself out there in front of others because you know in your heart what you are doing is right. Change takes bravery.

In the defense of everyone who stood in the way of Arielle being on the track team, they were simply following rules set out for them by the FHSAA. In the defense of the FHSAA, no one in a wheelchair had ever wanted to race on a high school track team. I believe there are only three states that allow wheelchair events in their track meets.

Why am I writing about all this on Thanksgiving? Because three days ago the FHSAA voted to allow the wheelchair 200, 800, and shot put in their track and field events in high school. I was told that it normally takes two years to add a new event and they did it in six months. I am very thankful for what they have done. Now, challenged teen athletes all over Florida will have the opportunity to be a member of their high school track team and compete. Why did this happen so quickly? I hold to my belief that people are good and compassionate. There may be times when we disagree but parents, teachers, principals, administrators, the FHSAA, we are all individuals who care about the future of our children. I believe what happened this past year with the FHSAA and track and field is a testimonial to how people can come together, create change, and help make our world better for our children. I encourage anyone reading this to see if their state allows challenged athletes on their high school track teams. Thank you FHSAA!

Happy Thanksgiving!
K.D.Rausin

http://communities.kintera.org/REEVE/blogs/daily_dose/archive/2009/11/24/67886.aspx

Florida is on the Right Track!

I want to shout from the mountaintops! I just received the best news this morning. http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/sep/28/281746/fhsaa-considering-track-events-wheelchair-athletes/news-breaking/

True story: Yesterday I said several times to my husband that I didn’t know what was upwith me. I had an unusual amount of extra energy an excitement that I couldn’t explain. Something felt different.

Everyone went to bed. I was wide awake. I turned on PBS because I am an auditory learner and I love informational T.V. There was a documentary on our National Parks and John Muir.

I sat and watched and listened to all his beautiful quotes. I learned about his influence on President Roosevelt. I saw his passion for nature and his persistence in showing others the beauty that he knew existed in nature. He was a spiritual man. A thought kept coming to my mind as I watched. See his persistence, I need to be that persistent so kids with disabilities can participate in team sports. Learn from this inspirational man. I went to bed thankful for the lesson and plotting my next move.

This morning someone sent me the link above. My arms shot up into the air, a tear slid down my face and that energy from yesterday glowed from within.Thank you FHSAA for making strides to do what is right.Thank you for listening. Thank you to everyone who has let their voice be heard for Arielle and for all the disabled athletes who deserve to have the same opportunities as able bodied athletes. Thank You!

Florida is on the right track!

K.D.Rausin

Walk…..Wheel This Way

Last week I had an interesting conversation with some friends. We discussed the topic of fear and my daughter’s disability. It was obvious that while kids and teens viewed the wheelchair as a novelty some adults have had a difficult time knowing how to react to a teen in a wheelchair. It was brought to my attention that when I was growing up, kids who were different in any way were separated from everyone else. Now, we have adults, some in leadership positions, who are still uncomfortable around people with disabilities. The reason for being uncomfortable, fear. Fear of not saying the right thing, fear of seeing the wheelchair-seeing the person and facing the knowledge that the same thing could happen to them. Fear of having to change a routine or the way something has always been done. Fear of feeling. If not for my daughter, I could have easily been one of these adults. The interesting thing is, I have never met a child or teen with these fears, only adults.

To kids and teens the wheelchair is fun. One day I turned down my street and discovered two of my daughter’s friends outside taking her racing chair and every day wheelchair for a spin. Kids are always sitting on her lap, tipping her back, pushing her, and asking to ride in her wheelchair when she transfers out of it. They see her as everyone should, a kid who is simply sitting down instead of standing.

A few weeks ago, I had a little kindergarten visitor when there was some confusion as to who was picking her up from my son’s bus stop. I brought her to my house while we waited for her ride. We were all strangers to her. She took one look at the wheelchair and wanted to climb in and give it a try. This little six year old child was not afraid. Neither was the three year old son of a close friend. His legs barely reached beyond the seat, but he maneuvered the wheelchair around our living room like a pro smiling and repeating “Rock on!”

There was a lesson I taught my third and fourth graders throughout the school year. They were probably sick of me saying, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” I tried to get them to see different points of view and understand that no one was out to get them or meant to intentionally hurt them- it’s just that sometimes we forget to look at a situation fromanother perspective. The tale about the blind men trying to describe an elephant after they have each touched only one part, the tusk, tail, side, foot, comes to mind. When the blind men compare notes, they can’t believe they are describing the same creature.

As a parent of a child in a wheelchair, whenever I feel there is an injustice, I become a lioness protecting her young. Sometimes it is difficult for me to take my own advice and try to understand the fear others may feel when seeing someone in a wheelchair, or simply that others are wrapped up in their own lives and do not see how their actions or inaction may affect my daughter. Like most parents, I want to bean anyone who has hurt my child. But that is not a good lesson for my children nor is it respecting of life. When I fail to see another perspective out of sheer pain for my daughter’s situation, I am lucky to have a group of friends who will gently open my eyes. Suddenly I see myself walking around my old classroom saying “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” My cheeks burn-take your own advice Mrs. Rausin.

To all the adults out there who are uncomfortable around people in wheelchairs-my advice is to first sit down in a chair-are you a different person? Now imagine that you could not get up out of that chair, how would your life be different? How would you feel if suddenly people treated you differently? I told my daughter we needed to start a wheelchair awareness day. (For adults) Have adults, including myself; spend one full day in a wheelchair to get a little better idea of what it’s like. I think it would help ease fears and open the eyes of some adults who are uncomfortable. Instead of walking in someone else’s shoes we would take off our shoes and replace them with a set of wheels.

K.D.Rausin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Men_and_an_Elephant

Happy Father’s Day, Eric!

I love to tell the story of how Eric and I met. I was nineteen years old. I was sitting in an apartment building lobby, all dressed up for my interview. He came off the elevator, smiled his gorgeous smile, and said “hello.” My gaze followed him out the front door. If my interview went well and I got the job of Office Manager, I’d definitely find out his name.

Two months later, I sat at my desk waiting. A little birdie had told me he was going to ask me out. He came off the elevator again, waved, and walked out the front door. My heart sank. An hour later he came back through the front door, and into my office. He sipped his berry peach smoothie then asked if I’d like to go to dinner and a movie. My smile was bigger than his.

I knew early on while we were dating that Eric was going to be a wonderful father. His close friend had two children and Eric always paid attention to them and made them laugh. Eric was patient and easy going, two ingredients that go well with fatherhood. Years later, it took some convincing…okay a whole, whole lot of convincing and stomping of feet but finally Eric agreed to give fatherhood a try. Thank goodness because he is truly a remarkable dad.

Eric spends a tremendous amount of time with our kids. All of his evenings and weekends are devoted to Elle and Kai. He plays Wiz War, Ticket to Ride, computer games, video games, and builds Star Wars ships with Kai. They play guitar, bass, and drums together. They discuss books together and wrestle each other on the couch. They laugh at stupid movies together while I sit in amazement wondering what made it so funny. Every now and again Kai will spout off a phrase and sound exactly like Eric. While eating Eric’s delicious homemade potato chips, Kai suddenly says “good call dad.” (Eric phrase meaning…great idea)

Eric still insists on kissing and hugging his teenage daughter. Now, she scoffs at him, but one day she will look back fondly on the times he did his best to embarrass her with love. Eric runs races with Elle. He drives her to school every morning and they chat about life. He plays piano and guitar with Elle and he is always there to help her whether she needs her racing chair fixed or wants to learn how to cook a new dish. Cooking with mom is not pretty!

Another quality that makes Eric such a great dad is his unconditional acceptance (love) for his children. He completely accepts who they are without trying to make them into someone he thinks they should be. He is able to convey his love for them in a way that is non judgmental. He will guide them and teach them right from wrong but he has a gentleness about him that shows Elle and Kai his love even when they have made a mistake.

Perhaps one of the greatest qualities Eric has as a father is his pure joy and love for life. His smile is real. He believes in the power of being positive, enjoying every day, and reaching goals. These are lessons Elle and Kai will carry close with them through life.

I am blessed and our children are blessed to have such a wonderful man in our lives. Happy Father’s Day Eric!






What a Great Day!

For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it,
For everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it,
For everyone who said I didn’t have it in me,
See you at the finish line…..

-Sign posted in Christopher Reeve’s exercise room

This came in a packet that was emailed to me last week with specific instructions that it was EMBARGOED until today. Today the Reeve Foundation released their study that shows there are over five million people in the US. living with paralysis. One million two hundred seventy five thousand have spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are the second largest cause of paralysis. Stroke is the leading cause at 29%.

Why is this important information? There is strength in numbers! Where there is strength, there is positive change. I tearfully watched the conference in Washington where the study was released to the press. With all my heart I thank the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for their efforts in recognizing, caring, and taking action for those with paralysis.

And why did I receive this packet last week ……look on page 23!
K.D.Rausin

That’s My Girl!

If this works properly, the video is a NBC-2 news story on Arielle participating with her high school track team. Florida, like many states, does not have a program for disabled athletes. We would like to see that change.

http://communities.kintera.org/Reeve/blogs/daily_dose/archive/2009/03/16/47530.aspx
Charlotte High School was the first school to allow Arielle to race on a track with able bodied athletes. They took a stand and did what they felt was right despite possible consequences from the FHSAA. (Florida High School Athletic Association) I believe it was a first in high school athletic history in Florida. (at least in this area) Island Coast High School followed their example and they were the second high school to allow Arielle on the track with runners.

Change

I’m sitting here writing because I must. I can’t explain it. I hear my friends saying, “Krista, you’re leaving for Miami today and you’re not packed?” Here’s me…”Oh, there’s plenty of time. I’ll get it all done:)”

Jan 6th I started my crusade to help my daughter become a member of her high school track team. I was amazed at how difficult it was to break through the barriers of change. In my mind of course people would do the right thing. We weren’t asking for more than allowing Arielle to be on the team,wear a uniform, and race alone against her own time. I would transport her to the away meets and no money would have to be spent on a bus with a lift. Imagine my surprise when suddenly my emails and phone calls were received with trepidation and formal statements claiming the district would follow specific rules set by the FHSAA. I wrote to the kind people at the Christopher Reeve Foundation and told them I felt like a sardine swimming with piranhas. They responded immediately with kind words and support.

I emailed and called everyone I could think of who could help me advocate for my daughter. I kept precise notes on all my conversations and emails. I asked for help on Facebook and received positive feedback from others who believed Elle had a right to be on the team. I can’t describe what it feels like to listen to someone tell you that your child can not even wear the team uniform. I felt the pain of being different. I felt the isolation of calling out for change. I felt the heartache of a mother who wants her child to have the same opportunities as all children.

I sat alone and breathed. I pictured my daughter smiling and racing as a member of her track team.I listened to the silence. I found my strength from within and knew that others were sitting and standing behind me. Yesterday I received a phone call from the principal. Elle would be allowed on the team. She would be allowed to race against her own time at home meets and only at away meets if the individual schools agreed. One phone call…my crusade was over. I took off my armour. I hugged my daughter.We cried. We learned.

Please Support the Paralympic Games

This is a note from Anjali Forber Pratt. She won a Bronze Medal at the Paralympics 2008 games. She is a mentor to Arielle. Goal: 2012 major television coverage of the Paralympic Games! Please help spread the word.
Hi everybody-

I hope you all are doing well. I am doing great– interning in Chicago area this semester and have started training again. I am writing with some information about how you can view the Paralympic Games on TV!

There are two options:

NBC Sports to Broadcast
2008 Paralympic Games Documentary

NBC Sports will air a 90-minute documentary about the 2008 Paralympic Games on Sunday, November 9,
2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET. (1:30 PM CST — IL folks: Channel 10 (WAND TV) MA folks, I cant tell from the local listings, check the paper or the guide)

Additionally, Universal Sports Network will air 4-hour Paralympic Games programs each night, November 10-16, 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. ET. This is Channel 251 in Chicago area networks. Unfortunately, USN is not available in Champaign or MA to the best of my knowledge.

PLEASE tune in!!! It took a lot to get this little coverage that we do get. THANKS 🙂

Anjali

Thank you Miami Project!

What an incredible three days Arielle and I shared in New York City. We met actors, sports legends, and Elle did her own news broadcast at 30 Rock.

I stood in front of my daughter in our tiny hotel room. “Do these shoes look okay with this dress?” She started laughing.
My stomach dropped. We had to leave for our dinner in fifteen minutes.
Well, they had to look better than sneakers.  Right? I swung open our door in hopes of finding a female hotel employee. I needed another opinion. A male employee happened to be passing by. Panicked I stopped him. “Please tell me, are these shoes okay with this dress?” He smiled. “Yes of course…black stockings and silver heels are fine…this is New York.” Okay, that was all I needed to feel better. Arielle shook her head at her crazy mother.

We went downstairs to get a cab to the Waldorf Astoria. (Wow, the name is even elegant.) We quickly discovered, thanks to a bored man stuck in traffic, that the Waldorf was one block away. Oops! That would have been embarrassing. Off we went, my silver shoes clicking on the sidewalk.

We arrived and Arielle claimed a space in front of the red carpet. The room filled with onlookers and the sports legends came out to talk to the media and sign autographs. Arielle and I were amazed at how many people called out for signatures. There were footballs, magazines, baseballs, boxing gloves, and 8X10’s passing over Elle’s head and popping up around us. Still with all that going on Mr. Mancini, Mr. Rice, Mr. Gossage, Mr. Pippen,and Mr. Castroneves all stopped to shake Arielle’s hand and say hello. I was impressed.

     

Rumor had it that President Bush was in the building. It seemed to be true because there were Secret Service men everywhere.Their presence and the notion that President Bush would be more aware of the plight of those with paralysis made the evening even more exciting.

Elle and I explored the three rooms filled with items for the silent auction. A signed guitar by the Jonas Brothers, swimming with Mr. Phelps, tickets to Oprah and the most extravagant jewelry I had ever seen, were only a few of the many impressive items.

Seated at our table was Mr. Weisman. He helped make the New York City bus system accessible. Anyone in a wheelchair knows that traveling can be a challenge. It was inspiring to meet someone who made such a difference for those in chairs.

From the time Stephanie invited us,to meeting one of The Miami Project’s scientists, Mr. Weisman and seeing the sports legends, I kept wondering just how I was going to help. What could I do? When the lights dimmed and the video played, instantly I knew.

I watched a father and a mother crying, confused, their 19 year old son suddenly was paralyzed. I was transported to my life five years ago. I relived every feeling and understood completely what they were going through. But there was one huge difference. I had over four years experience in this new world. I longed to offer hope. My journal!

Before I left for this magical trip I started this journal after reading articles printed in GuidePosts magazine by Sue Monk Kidd.Originally my goal was to write about writing and pursuing dreams. The video inspired me to write more about our family. Through my journal I can reach out to those families who are struggling to understand life with paralysis. Perhaps I can help those who find themselves asking, “what exactly is a bruise on the spinal cord?”

Just when I thought our night couldn’t get any better, we met Brad Leland from Friday Night Lights. I summoned up the courage to start a conversation. I had to thank him for having an actor portray someone who is paralyzed on his show. He was very kind and asked Arielle about her favorite movies. She was surprisingly quiet….maybe starstruck.

We walked back to our hotel amidst the Secret Service and more policemen than I have ever seen in my life.
The Miami Project not only raised over 7 million dollars to find a cure, they raised the hopes of a mother and daughter. Someday, thanks to many caring people, my daughter will take her first steps for the second time in her life.

Thank you to everyone who helped make The Living Legends Dinner a success. Thank you to Stephanie and everyone from The Miami Project. You gave us an evening we will never forget.
Now, I want to do my part.
If you know of any families who would benefit from reading about our experiences, please pass this on. Comments can be left and I would be more than happy to answer any questions.

 

Naples News Article on Arielle

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2008/aug/17/our-world-champion/
 

The Picture Book Review

Picture book reviews, reviews of books with pictures, and pictures of books!

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