My niece, Callie, is a child who has experienced a lot in her first years of life. As a result there are many resources involved in her care. Her mother, Rhonda, managed to coordinate two fundraisers in their community this past year in support of one of those resources – Variety – the children’s charity. Friends, family, school and anonymous donors managed to raise over $8000! That is awesome! Due to that effort they were invited to be on The Variety Show of Hearts Telethon . This annual telethon brings together thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly to present a show that features talented performers from around the world and the stories of special needs children who have benefited by their programs and services.
First let me say, that even getting to this event is a challenge. After accepting the invitation from Variety to attend, many people became involved. It is not as easy as “let’s pack up and go.” Her school creatively designed a cheque banner with the amount displayed. Husband took time off work, (which they can ill afford) to drive them to the show, neighbours agreed to look after their dog, Grandma opened up her home for all to gather the night before, my sister organized everything Callie would need to be away from home and ready for her moment in the spotlight. It was disappointing to see that after all that preparation the moment was brief for all the kids and their parents who participated in coin drives. (camera didn’t even capture all of them, including my sister) However, a flash of our beautiful girl was seen, it was an experience to remember and hopefully viewers were moved to donate. If these children can do it anyone can!
The importance of children’s charities in our society is huge. Many families struggle to provide all the necessary care that comes with special needs children. Even if you are fortunate to have a child that does not require specialized support, you still are aware of how much it takes to raise a child. Imagine for a moment all that you do currently for your children. Now, compound that by round the clock care, multiple hospital visits, purchasing adaptive equipment, adjusting your home for adaptive equipment, therapy costs and travel expenses to get to appointments. You familiarize and educate yourself about all that care, plus medications, interview various practitioners, participate in all school meetings related to your child’s education, document everything and become an advocate on your child’s behalf. Countless hours are spent on immediate needs and considering future requirements as they move toward adulthood.
I have seen first hand what my sister has to do everyday since her precious daughter was born. There is little time for herself; all waking hours are spent wrapped up in Callie’s world. So many things that my sister and her husband dreamed for their life and for the life of their child was replaced with a new reality. There is no miraculous cures, only small victories. All of us wade into this unknown with hope, frustration, energy, helplessness, joy, confusion, tears and smiles. There isn’t one person who is close to parents of children with special needs that doesn’t become affected in some way or another.
When these children come into the world it really does take a village to raise them. So, I encourage you to see what you can do to support. Do you know a mother or a family in your community who has a child with special needs? I would ask that you make an honest effort to reach out to that family through friendship. It can be a very lonely road, especially for mothers. They wanted the same things for their child that you want for yours. Challenge yourself to find ways to get to know these neighbours, try to find a way to make life easier, share your skills or just engage in conversation. They are busy, often running on low sleep and high expectations but if you can be there when these parents need help, have your children be a part of their child’s celebrations or even just call to say “Hi”,you are giving a most valuable gift.
Callie has made her contribution back to one organization that gives so deeply and she, through her mothers vision, continues to find a way to connect with her community. Hopefully this post will help inspire others to do the same in what ever form that takes.
(Check out my blogroll and to Rhonda’s blog Lets Be Wheelistic)