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A Father's Story - DSAWM W.I.W. Series - Part #3 (Nonprofit Neighbors)

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

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A Father’s Story – By Brad Hecksel

On May 11, 2008 my wife gave birth to our second child, Lauren Christine.  It was Mother’s Day.  From the moment the nurse placed her in my arms I knew something was different this time around.  It wasn’t long before hospital staff confirmed my suspicions by informing us that Lauren had Down syndrome.  In an instant I went from being on a roller coaster I’d willingly hopped into the front seat of, to wanting nothing more than to get off as I crested the first hill.  I felt all alone, sitting on a runaway train about to plunge down a near vertical drop with no bottom in sight.   

But by the end of that first day, I remembered I was not alone.  My wife was right next to me and she was as scared as I was.  Slowly, I came to realize that Lauren’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and other loved ones were along for the ride too.  Every day that passed, we could see more clearly that we weren’t going to run out of track.  But I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until Lauren’s first smile – first real smile - that I remembered she was right there with us, knowing we’d take care of her.

About a week before the 2008 Buddy Walk we decided to ask for support and put together a team.   Given the short amount of notice we were giving, we weren’t sure what to expect.   The response was overwhelming.  No fewer than 25 people joined us in our walk that beautiful Saturday morning and several dozen others voiced their support with thousands of dollars in donations.   By the end of the day I was officially enjoying the ride and so were hundreds of others present, different in so many ways yet connected by a common thread.

While I look forward to the Buddy Walk for all the reasons that I enjoyed it the first time, this year feels a little different.  I walk to honor those who have come before, worked hard and made sacrifices, blazing the trail to a brighter world for Lauren.  I walk to raise financial contributions to provide individuals with Down syndrome and their families resources to help them learn to enjoy this ride.  I walk to raise the awareness of the general public.  I walk to educate the medical and educator communities.  I walk to give the Down syndrome community a voice in the legislative process.   

But most of all I walk for Lauren’s smile.  The world is a better place for it.  



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