Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We all need a little help sometimes


As we enter into this holiday season, we turn our attention toward family and giving. With all of the news of financial crisis and recession this year, many families have found themselves in financial turmoil due to loss of employment, loss of their home, medical debt, etc. Having a special needs child invariably adds to the stress level of maintaining financial solvency, particularly when health care costs are going up, and not all needed services may be covered.

This season I find myself in a novel situation. Our family is completely without employment. This isn’t our first experience with being laid off, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either. But, since we now have two boys with autism, my husband and I made the decision several years ago for me to stay home to help coordinate their therapy, schooling and care. So, we went from a single income family making it work month-to-month, to now being a family without income. Fortunately, we are doing alright for now, but this got me to thinking about other families out there who may not be as lucky in this type of situation.

There are actually a lot of resources out there. By no means do I know them all or claim to be an expert, but I thought I would share some that I’ve come across that may be of help to you or someone you know. A good place to start is with State of Washington to determine if you qualify for anything. The website is http://access.wa.gov and you click on “Living in Washington” and then click on “Health and Social Services.” There is an eligibility calculator and information on various state services available for those who need them.

By far, my favorite resource is 2-1-1. It is an all-inclusive service that can provide you with resources for any locale and any need. The website for Washington State is http://www.resourcehouse.com/win211/. Once at the website, you click on the blue “Start a Search” button. You can search by keyword, topic, or location. It’s a fairly comprehensive service that should provide you with lots of valuable information. You can also simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone to be connected with this resource.

The following is a short list of service providers in the Spanaway/Puyallup area, and I found them in the local school district newsletter, “Bethel Pride,” November 2009 issue, page 2.

Bethel Family Center
18020 B St E
253-683-6850
- Toys for kids from babies to children age 18
- New winter clothing
- New personal hygiene items
- Disposable diapers

Community Care Ministries
13202 224th St E (Old Thrift Community Hall)
Fridays 10am to noon
360-832-2360
- Toys for babies to children age 18
- Stocking stuffers
- High-protein food items like tuna and peanut butter

First Place for Children
12108 Pacific Ave S
253-531-2009
- Coats, hats and gloves
- Children’s underwear

Miracle Makers – A nonprofit organization that helps families in crisis.
Mary Wilson, Director
253-875-9587
miraclemakers@msn.com
PO Box 1191
Spanaway, WA 98387
- Seeks family financial assistance
- Needs groups or individuals who are willing to adopt families

Salvation Army (South Hill)
4009 9th St SW
253-841-1491
- Canned vegetables, turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie filling
- Juice
- Cash donations

Youth Resources Inc. – Serving homeless youth.
253-209-5216
- Hoodies, socks, cash donations

Graham Food Bank
253-846-3805
Open Mon/Wed/Fri, 1:30 to 4pm

Spanaway FISH Food Bank
16001 A St E, Spanaway
www.fishfoodbanks.org
Call 253-383-1817 for an appointment between 9:15am to noon
Open Mon/Wed/Fri, 1 to 2pm

Roy FISH Food Bank
220 1st St, Roy
www.fishfoodbanks.org
Call 253-843-3033 for an appointment between 9:30am to noon
Open Wed/Fri, 1 to 3pm

I would like to encourage families who do not have major struggles to overcome this season, to think about giving in some way to your local community. This can be as simple as making a small donation to a charity or food bank in your neighborhood, volunteering your time, or a beautiful gesture of adopting a family in need for the holidays. If you take a minute to visit the 2-1-1 website listed above, you will find lots of local charities that could use your help in a variety of ways. Don't forget to get your kids involved whenever possible! It is a rewarding experience for the whole family to participate in giving together. Who knows? You might even start a new family tradition for the holidays.

If your family finds itself in need this holiday season, I wish you all the best as you search for and secure assistance. I hope that I may have provided some sort of helpful information to ease your burden. Please take care, and I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

**Update as of 12/13/09** - Only a couple of days left for this opportunity!

Payless ShoeSource Shoes 4 Kids program has partnered with the Hope Center’s Hope’s Kids program to provide families with children in need with a pair of brand new shoes!! (Children ages 1-13)

Eligible Families Must:

1. Complete the attached application at http://www.paylessgives.com/programUSEnglish.html

2. Provide proof of income (families must be 80% or below of the area median income)

3. Provide a valid government issued ID

4. Provide a birth certificate for each child (limit two children per household)

Upon being eligible each child will receive one (1) voucher for $15.00 to take to any Payless Store to redeem and pick out their shoes at a local Payless Shoe Source store. Interested families should complete the application with the appropriate documents and return to the address below no later than
December 15, 2009.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mother Warriors: Review and Commentary


-Originally posted on November 18, 2008 at www.exceptionalfamilies.net.

On a recent trip I had some quiet moments to read and I found myself engrossed by Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, Mother Warriors. I admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of her previous book, Louder than Words, but her new book spoke to me and I finished it in less than a day. Much to my surprise, I found myself in tears by the end. No matter your opinion of Jenny McCarthy, she is one of the top VOCAL advocates for the autism community and is pushing nerves and helping spread the word that there’s a big problem. I am a parent of two diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and I am trying to make a difference and be vocal in my own community. Jenny can do what I cannot – give major television interviews, write best-selling books, and generally increase the national awareness about the autism epidemic. I admire her passionately stepping up to say something despite the controversy of the topic.

Chapter 2 of Mother Warriors is an extended analogy that Jenny provides about the plight of many families dealing with autism. A child appears normal and then one day something changes and the child seems to be lost (often very suddenly) to autism. Many believe that vaccines triggered their child’s autism. In the words of Francis Collins, “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” Chapter 2 is a bit long to copy into a blog, but it provides a great new perspective that is worthwhile to share in its entirety.

“Imagine watching your child climb up a flight of stairs. He slips on a stair and cuts his knee open and begins gushing blood. The cuts are deep, and you immediately wash away the blood, wrap up the knee, and head to the hospital. Once you get there, the doctor asks what happened. You reply, ‘He climbed up some stairs and he fell and got hurt.’

Now imagine the doctor telling you it’s not possible that your child got this hurt from stairs. ‘But I saw him climb stairs and fall and I saw his knee split open,’ you explain.

Again, the doctor says, ‘It’s not possible.’

And you repeat, ‘But I saw it happen!’

Then the doctor tells you that climbing up stairs is safe. But you know what you saw with your own eyes and so you insist, ‘But obviously sometimes it’s NOT safe. Look at my child. I saw him get hurt!’

The doctor just keeps shaking his head and denies that stairs could ever harm a child.

This is how black and white it is for us moms who have children with autism. We had healthy beautiful children who climbed up stairs perfectly until one stair caused them to fall. We have witnessed the neurological downfall of our children after certain vaccinations, but when we tell the doctors what we saw, they don’t believe us. Can you imagine how frustrating this is?

Let’s take the stair scenario a step further. After the doctor rejects your claims, you decide to treat the wound yourself. You learn about natural and alternative treatments, which you try out, and your child’s knee heals to the point where you can barely see any marks. Now imagine you go to the doctor for a follow-up visit and this time you see a different doctor. The doctor looks at your child’s knee strangely and says, ‘This must be the wrong knee.’

You explain, ‘No, this is the knee that split open.’

The doctor says, ‘It can’t be because it healed up. There is no way an injury like that could heal. The hospital must have mistaken the severity of the wound.’

You reply, ‘No, doctor, I healed the wound myself by cleaning it out and treating my child with natural remedies.’

The doctor then looks at you strangely. He begins to laugh at you and tells you that your son never really had an open wound to begin with. You stand there with your mouth open.

‘Yes, he did, doctor. Take a look at the medical records. He was seen in YOUR hospital!’

The doctor replies, ‘It must have been a mistake on his records. He never had a wound here.’

This is exactly how it is when a child with autism gets better. No one believes he had anything wrong with him to begin with. People think these recovered children were misdiagnosed. The reason recovery is controversial is because we are healing these kids by treating the injuries caused by the vaccines or the environmental toxins rather than the autism itself. When we treat these things, the symptoms of the autism get better. The medical community is terrified to come within ten feet of detoxing metals out of these kids because it will point the finger directly at what everyone is so scared to admit. Vaccines CAN trigger autism.

There are two controversies about autism: first, the causes, and second, whether children can recover. A battle is raging in the medical community, but there is a growing army of mothers who are fighting for their children and witnessing recovery firsthand. Imagine a world in which we all are fighting on the same side to help make children with autism better. The time to unite is now.”


Our family did not have a defining moment of autism where one day our boys were fine and the next they weren’t, but I know plenty of people who believe their child suffers from autism due to vaccine injury. I empathize with their struggles and do not dispute their stories. With all of the reading and research I have done, I know there is something to it that many doctors do not recognize or are unwilling to recognize.

I was thinking how our kids may be the canaries of our generation. Much like the canaries in the coal mine, our kids with autism could very well be the first indication of a greater environmental danger that we are unable to detect on our own. I have come to be a firm believer of the effect of toxic load on children. The way I like to think about autism is that our kids each have a row of dominoes stacked just so, with each one a possible trigger or tipping point. There are many dominoes, and each domino on their own is seemingly insignificant, such as: allergies, reflux, eczema, ear infections, diarrhea, food intolerances, asthma, chemicals in the home, pesticides on our food, heavy metals exposure, fluoride and chlorine in our water, candida overgrowth, the vaccine schedule, genetic predisposition, etc. The list seems to be endless and I have by no means included everything that could ultimately be involved. When one or more of these dominoes gets bumped and the dominoes are close enough together for the bump to make an impact, I believe it triggers the cascading fall into autism. The sum of all of the parts equates to a life-changing diagnosis.

I know for a fact that when you treat the underlying toxicities, the symptoms of autism CAN improve. For instance, my youngest son was nonverbal, constantly having tantrums, screaming, had trouble with balance, had a decreased ability to feel pain, and was an extremely picky eater, among other things. After not getting adequate help from the traditional medical community, and getting the advice from a pediatric nutritionist to put him on Ensure to supplement his diet of McDonalds chicken nuggets and French fries, I took matters into my own hands. I HATED the idea of trying the GFCF diet considering I would have to remove the only food my kids would eat, but finally forced the issue when I requested a food allergy test. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that both of my boys diagnosed on the autism spectrum had multiple food allergies, and the one with the most severe symptoms had the most allergies!

Needless to say, I gave away all of the food in my house and completely started over. The entire family went on the GFCF (gluten free, casein free) diet COLD TURKEY. Due to the diagnosed allergies, wheat/gluten, dairy, soy and egg were now all off limits. This was not an easy feat. I spent about $1,000 on new food in 30 days, trying every allergy-free food item I could find. I checked out lots of books from the library, went online to research and find recipes, bought a few cookbooks, and literally taught myself a new way of cooking in a matter of a few days.

The first week was simply awful. We had immensely expensive new food, not all of it palatable, and a very moody and picky eater who went on a hunger strike for 4 days. His behaviors got even worse, likely complicated by his hungry tummy and the pain of the detoxification process. It took all my strength to keep moving forward despite what seemed to be a setback. After two weeks of sheer hell, my son began to talk. Just like that. One day he was our “tantrum boy” and two weeks of detox later, he was talking and the balance problems seemingly disappeared. Within 1 month of starting the diet he was talking in short sentences, singing the alphabet, and counting to twenty in Spanish. His improvement was exponential and he hasn’t stopped since. If you knew him before the diet changes and saw him now, you wouldn’t recognize him. His autism symptoms have improved because of decreasing his toxic load. It’s that simple. This significant change was the first really major step forward in our journey. We have made other changes since then that continue to positively contribute toward both of my boys’ improvements.

Many times we as parents need to go beyond treating behaviors, aiding motor abilities, providing sensory input, or helping with speech. There are often physical issues to deal with, but the trick is figuring out what they are. Just like the spectrum of autism and its many variations and severities, the symptoms and physical treatments will vary based on each individual. A great resource for learning about the various treatment options and the parent-reported success rates of each treatment is the Autism Research Institute at www.autism.com.

The bodies of our kids are like a barometer. Our children feel the storm inside of them but may not have the ability to share it with us. Their barometric pressure is rising silently with the sometimes subtle physical clues, and we need to pay attention. Parent warriors, both mothers and fathers, need to be vigilant to figure out what their child’s storm is, and then help it pass from their bodies. When we search and try new things (supplements, diet, chelation, etc.), there will be failures, but the successes can be significant and wonderful to behold. I would encourage you to be open to all the possibilities of improvement, despite how traditional or alternative they may be. Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone is the solution, as I have personally experienced.

Stories like that of my son weave through Jenny McCarthy’s book. The final chapter of Mother Warriors encapsulated everything for me. I wanted to stand up and cheer! Here is Chapter 29 – short but great.

“If there was ever a need for a call to action to mothers around the world, the time is right now. What’s going on in the world can no longer be overlooked or discredited. People can say there is no science to support our beliefs about the causes of autism and ways to treat it, but there is plenty of evidence. Just walk into the homes of families who have children with autism. They’ll be happy to introduce you to their science.

When did people become so trusting of government organizations or even paramedical companies? Sooner or later, many of these organizations become corrupt. It’s inevitable. Remember when they told us smoking was good for our health? Remember when they told us autism was because of emotionally cold and lazy mothers? How many times have medications come on the market, deemed safe, and then pulled off the market owing to major side effects? Are we to believe that ALL thirty-six vaccinations given now are ALL safe with no side effects? Give me a break. Are we supposed to buy the fact that these shots are one-size-fits-all? Or that every child is born with a perfect immune system? Wake the hell up, America, and think hard about the logic in this.

In the meantime, I hope mothers across America will join me in our fight to change this insane vaccine schedule and demand that they GREEN our vaccines. Take the crap out! Enough is enough.

These kids are here for a reason, a much bigger purpose than we are all probably even aware of. They are showing us we need to make some major changes in this world and we need to care for our bodies and for this planet. We have to listen to the message they bring and assist them in every possible way we can. They are the messengers and we are the doers. So let’s start doing something about it.”


What a great ending! Hooray for all the parent warriors out there! Despite the obstacles, keep on the path you know is right. Let’s proceed shoulder to shoulder in the unity of community. Please continue to hope for your child and never give up the fight for them!

For more information about the Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, Mother Warriors, visit www.generationrescue.org.

What the heck is a "Radura" and why should I care?


-Originally posted on November 10, 2008 on www.exceptionalfamilies.net.

Parents of special needs children are already very aware of what they are feeding their children, especially when there is concern about toxic load and the effects the food may have on your child. As the mother of two boys with multiple food allergies/sensitivities, autism, and sensory processing disorder, I monitor every ingredient on every label of everything I buy. For our family, diet was the key to the most significant progress, particularly when my youngest began talking two weeks after we went off of all of the allergenic foods. As a result, I am very conscious of what things come into our home and whether or not each item will help or hinder my children’s progress. Now there’s something else to watch out for. The article, “Beware the Radura: Bombarding food with radiation results in preservation at a price” by Eric Schneider in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Energy Times, had me sit up and take notice.

“Radura,” a fairly innocuous term, is the name of a new logo to be on the look out for at a store near you. The logo itself is described as a “minimalist…two-leaved plant enclosed by a circle, with breaks in the top half that allude to ionizing rays.” This flower-like logo, which seems to imply something healthy and natural, is a sign that the food you are about to purchase has been treated with radiation. Irradiation has been slowly gaining momentum since the FDA approved it in 1963, and over the years irradiated foods include meat, vegetables and spices. Since the 2006 E. coli outbreak that affected the spinach industry and the salmonella outbreak this past May that affected tomatoes and peppers, the FDA has pushed forward the usage of irradiation to now include lettuce and spinach.

The thing that really caught my attention was that spices are treated with the equivalent of one billion chest x-rays and a hamburger is treated with the equivalent of 15 million chest x-rays. Are you kidding me? When we get an x-ray, we have to wear a protective lead shield. Are we supposed to really believe that eating food exposed to ONE BILLION the times of radiation as when we are wearing our cute lead smock is actually SAFE? Do I have the word stupid tattooed to my forehead? You have got to be kidding me! As if the actual logic wasn’t enough to convince me that irradiation is a bad idea, there is actual data proving that it is harmful.

Wenonah Hauter, author of Zapped! Irradiation and the Death of Food points to the fact that the use of irradiation was approved due to studies that were labeled “deficient” by their own people at the FDA. They did this 79 times – approved the use of a potentially harmful process with deficient science. Does this sound familiar? Seems to me that this is the same mentality that got us into a pickle with the use of mercury in vaccines. That’s a whole other story in itself, but not for this particular blog.

Diane Hatz from Sustainable Table believes that the long-term effects of consuming goods that have been irradiated is unknown. “Irradiation changes the molecular structure of food, and creates carcinogens such as benzene and toxic chemicals like toluene. Animals fed irradiated food have encountered health problems such as premature death, mutations, stillbirths and organ damage.” If the animals who are eating irradiated food are experiencing such widespread effects, why would we even consider this is a good idea to introduce into our own homes and experiment on its safety in our children? Irradiation affects the flavor, odor and nutritional quality of food, destroying vitamins and creating byproducts which don’t actually occur in the food itself. Those particular byproducts have been linked to “cancer development in rats and genetic damage in human cells.”

The premise for irradiation is to kill harmful bacteria, help control pests and create a longer shelf life – all very worthy reasons for the greater good. However, when a food is irradiated, what happens to it when it is shipped, sold or prepared? It certainly has plenty of opportunity to become contaminated prior to arriving as dinner on your table. Will it protect against mad-cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease or hepatitis? The answer is no to all. It is not a guarantee of safety and may actually encourage poor sanitation and unsafe practices. It will not help us with imported food produced in substandard conditions, nor will it help clean up problems at industrial farms. The author cites an example of when imported shrimp grown in filthy conditions were irradiated to aid in masking the true nature of the food. It appeared okay because it lasted longer, but if you knew the origin of the food would you as a consumer knowingly eat old, dirty food, even if the bacteria on it are dead?

My personal opinion on the radura logo and the usage of irradiation is buyer beware. From my experience, our special needs children seem to be more sensitive to toxic load and may also have genetic vulnerabilities that can negatively contribute. Do we as parents want to knowingly make their situation more complicated and possibly cause them additional harm? Familiarize yourself with the radura logo so you can be on the lookout for it. I for one will do my best to make sure that none of this food enters my home. After all of our amazing progress, I’m not willing to take the risk of buying irradiated foods for my family.

Let's end autism discrimination in 2009!


-Originally posted on December 11, 2008 at www.exceptionalfamilies.net.

Wouldn’t it be great to start 2009 with the goal of ending discrimination against families with autism? That is one of my goals, and I would encourage you to join me in the fight. I am working in legislative District 25 (Puyallup and surrounding areas) to try to garner support for the proposed autism insurance parity legislation in Washington State. One in every 94 boys is now estimated to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (as of 2005). Affected families are filing for divorce at unprecedented rates (more than 80%!). The top reason for divorce is financial strain, and anyone who has dealt with autism is keenly aware of the intense financial burden a child on the spectrum presents, particularly when insurance doesn’t cover the autism diagnosis code. Many families can spend upwards of $50,000 PER CHILD with autism, PER YEAR!

Our family is dealing with TWO boys on the spectrum, and we are trying to pay for occupational, physical, and speech therapy. We haven’t even been able to consider ABA for our boys simply due to the high cost and lack of benefits. Insurance coverage has been one of our biggest issues in trying to do what is best for our kids. Back when our house had some market value, we took out a home equity line on our home in preparation for the medical bills to come due. If we were to tap into the rest of the available balance, we will be underwater in our mortgage. Due to the therapy schedule and demands of raising my boys, I don’t have time to work a regular job. Even though we are a single-income household, my husband makes too much for us to qualify for any sort of assistance. Who would have ever thought that my husband’s income would be a detriment, and that we would have to place our home in jeopardy to do to the bare minimum to care for our children?

The most upsetting thing is the fact that autism is a diagnosis that automatically qualifies our family and others like us to be the recipients of insurance discrimination. Children with other medical or developmental issues are getting insurance benefits and the care they need, but we are being singled out for exclusion and the eventual financial hardships that go along with this type of discrimination. The truth is that autism typically responds well to early intervention, and the cost savings is millions of dollars per child versus those who do not receive the needed services at an earlier age. It doesn’t take a degree in finance to realize that spending a little money upfront is better than spending a huge amount of money in the years to come. A small contribution towards insurance parity now will save taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run. Doesn’t that seem like a good use of taxpayer money?

If you believe that families dealing with autism should not be discriminated against and deserve insurance parity, I highly encourage you to visit the Washington Autism Advocacy website and sign up to show your support. Check it out at: www.washingtonautismadvocacy.org. Please sign up no matter if you have a child with autism or not, if you are a parent or professional, or if you are in District 25 or elsewhere. Take a minute to call or email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor Autism Insurance Parity. I will be happy to supply you with a sample phone script or sample letter to make this an easy process. Here is a link to find your legislator: http://www.washingtonautismadvocacy.org/legislative/finder.php.

You can email me at specialfamiliespc@gmail.com with any questions or to request the sample letter/script, FAQ’s or flyer. The session starts on January 12th, and we need to get legislators on board before the session starts. Let your lawmakers know how you feel about this issue. Help us fight for our kids with autism! Thank you so much for your support and I hope that 2009 is the year that we end discrimination against our children!

Update as of December 2009:
Shayan's Law did not get enacted in the 2009 session, so the fight continues. Please check www.washingtonautismadvocacy.org to learn how you can help in 2010.

My Personal Cornucopia: A Diagnosis of Abundance

-Originally posted on November 27, 2008 at www.exceptionalfamilies.net

Well, the allergy-free pies are baked and the kitchen looks like a tornado came through it. Now the house is quiet and my mind is actively figuring out all of the details for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving soiree. Amidst this flurry of thought, I find myself reflecting on Thanksgiving. No, I’m not talking Pilgrims and Indians, or even a chaotic turkey dinner with family. I’m talking about Thanksgiving in terms of personal meaning. Giving thanks. Thankfulness. Reasons to be thankful.

When you have a child with special needs, or in my case, two, it is often difficult to get past the challenges and negatives constantly barraging you. Oh, the struggles! There are so many to face and overcome! It can be completely exhausting. I have plenty of things worthy of complaining about, but I would rather have an attitude of hope and thanks.

By purposely placing myself in the perspective of “thanksgiving,” it reaffirmed that our diagnosis was not one of shortcomings, but rather of plenty. Last night I attended an event for special needs families, and the speaker talked about how in the Chinese language the symbol for “crisis” is the same symbol as for “opportunity.” What a moment of clarity!

I have so much to be thankful for! Our diagnosis experience has truly been an opportunity for the entire family. Since we started down this road, we have all learned and grown so much. Our family is closer, especially because my husband and I chose to consciously face everything together. My immersion in learning about how to help my kids has made me a better parent. This experience has facilitated some self-discovery that I may not have ever undergone. I know that I have the strength to do this difficult job of parenting my special boys. Their progress is continual, and for that I thank God. There are multitudes of other reasons to be thankful during this time of Thanksgiving, and I feel lucky to have the meaning of each one of them in my life.

The battles won’t end, and the hills will continue to be steep, but there are a lot of things along the way that are beautiful and magnificent to behold. If you are caught up in the vortex of stress and burden, I challenge you to take a quiet moment to discover your personal cornucopia. May it be as rewarding an exercise for you as it was for me.

The Joy of Connection

-Originally posted June 4, 2009 on www.exceptionalfamilies.net.

One of the things I have learned in the past year, as I have delved further into the local special needs community, is that there is power in connection. I think most humans have a desire to connect with one another in a meaningful way. Yes, there is always a desire to find a special someone with which you can share your life, but beyond that, there is a peace that comes from a shared experience among peers, friends and acquaintances. No matter your circumstance, you are not alone! I have learned this lesson more powerfully in a very short time, and it has been a wonderful experience. As I have jumped into the deep waters of the special needs community, I have learned that there are many more parents, friends, caregivers and professionals out there than I had previously imagined. The one thing we all have in common is a shared bond of experience driving us to help and encourage one another. Luckily, my experience has been more positive than others I’ve known who have come before me, and I hope that’s a sign of increased awareness, empathy, and understanding. We are all in the same battle together, and it is a huge waste of energy to conduct yourself in a negative way. Positive connection is key. Sharing your experience so that others who follow in your footsteps may have less of a burden is a gift and a blessing. I have been fortunate to have wonderful friends and mentors who have helped me when I have been solidly stuck in frustration or simply had no idea what to do next. It is my hope that in some way I am returning the favor to others now.

Through my work with SPECIAL Families of Pierce County and The Wyatt Holliday Foundation, I am forging lasting connections with others, and am continually in a position to learn more. There is an amazing opportunity for us to come together as a community to meet one another, share experiences, network, and have fun in the process. For the first time ever, The Wyatt Holliday Foundation is working on an event called, “Exceptional Families 3K Walk & Roll.” This fundraiser for the foundation will be held at gorgeous Owen Beach at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. The promenade walkway is flat and paved, offering water views and allowing children and adults of all abilities to participate, no matter disability or diagnosis. Money raised from this event will benefit the ongoing mission and work of The Wyatt Holliday Foundation and Exceptional Families Network. We are actively planning this event and would love your participation! We are still recruiting volunteers and, of course, want to see lots of people in attendance. Already, we are seeing a positive response from the community and we haven’t even begun to advertise. I look forward to seeing the results of hard work and a caring population coming together into something beautiful and beneficial.

If you want to share the joy of connection, please place this event on your calendar and come enjoy a sunny morning among friends on Saturday, September 26th. More information, including online registration, will be posted very soon! Please check back here or send me an email if you have any questions or would like to volunteer. I am reachable via email at specialfamiliespc@gmail.com.

See you in September!