Today was the DSAH Buddy Walk. It is a fundraiser and event celebrated at various times across the nation to raise awareness and funds for Down syndrome and related issues. We technically could have gone to the Buddy Walk last year, but seeing as I was a week and a half post partum and still trying to figure out how to get my son to eat, we passed.
Can I be candid?
I stressed over this event. I felt that I needed to go, to see what the event was all about and to physically show support for my son. I was called, compelled, led, whatever word you choose. I almost went last year and regretted not doing so (I know, I know) and pledged that I would be there this go around.
I was also very scared of going to this event. I was fearful of seeing so many people with Down syndrome, not because I feared them or felt prejudice against them, but because of the overwhelming reminder of the community that we are part of. I think it is still taking time to come to terms with. I have a lot of fears and concerns still and it is hard for me to explain right now.
In hopes of this event being better for us, I prayed for support. My heart's desire was for a large team to spend the time with us and maybe in the process of raising that team, some funds could be collected for DSAH as well. I had this image of matching 12th Man T-shirts for Johnny Football's team, of a great time with friends running around, of being able to connect my two networks (Buddy friends and other friends) together at the event. Outside of expectations for the event itself, I yearned for more. Partially to shield myself from having to face the fears on my heart. If I had a large group of people to talk to and "organize" then I wouldn't have to worry about all the other people there. Partially to simply have that physical presence of support for us, for Johnny, and for his diagnosis.
It became painfully obvious early on that a "movie" image of a perfect Buddy Walk team was not in the cards for us. I checked each day to see if anyone had joined our team or if any funds were pledged only to be met by an empty roster and zero funds. I mentioned the Buddy Walk in conversation to silence or awkward changes in conversation. I put reminders out there, stopping short of a plea for somebody, anybody to walk with us. Pride grappled with humility as I mulled over what to do. I didn't know if I should back out of the walk, if I should beg for Buddies, or if I should throw my shoulders back, hold my head high, and know that our family is enough support for my son. I desperately wanted to back out of the walk, but Matt reminded me that we made a commitment and we needed to follow through. If nothing else, it was a good example of completing a task that we had set out to do, despite the circumstances that we saw as being less than ideal. A friend asked us just this week if she could walk with us. I honestly started crying. We had someone on our team. Another friend, being unable to join us for several different reasons, donated funds a few weeks ago. We had a single family join us and a single family donate to us.
I wanted more, but I got enough. Did I want the large teams like so many of my friends from Buddy Groups had? Did I want spectacle and excitement over Johnny? Did I want people to devote time to us, helping to raise awareness and with their physical presence say, "We are Johnny's 12th Man!"? Of course. A thousand times over I wanted these things. But what I got was enough to sustain me. Am I disappointed? More than I can say. Do I think I will join again? That remains to be seen...very, very seen. Sometimes it's feast, sometimes it's famine, but today it was simply enough. For our Buddies who joined us, Johnny Football and the 12th Man, I am thankful to God.