Did you know that October was Down Syndrome Awareness Month?
We spent the month spreading a little kindness in our community with our #Trisomy21ActsofKindness project. Down syndrome is the trisomy (or triplication) of chromosome 21. We completed 21 random acts of kindness to celebrate Augie and all people with Down Syndrome, to raise awareness, and foster acceptance and inclusion in our community!
Here is a recap and a few pictures of our 21 Acts of Kindness . . .
Paid for a random couple's movie at the local theater. I bought a movie theater gift card with enough money for two tickets, and then gave it to a couple going into the theater. It was totally unexpected for them and I think their smiles says it all!
Paid for the order behind us in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant. This was a simple, inexpensive and *hopefully* impactful kindness act. It certainly blessed our day. The young man who I talked to at the window told me that his nephew had just been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I was able to tell him everything was going to be OK - because IT WILL BE OK! There is no limit to what his nephew will be able to accomplish. The journey forward can be just as beautiful and rewarding as before they knew he had Down Syndrome. I know this because I live it. I handed him an extra card with our Down Syndrome Information to keep for himself. Right about that time, a young woman popped her head into the drive thru window to say hello and I recognized her almost immediately. She was the recipient of our 1st act of kindness - the movie tickets! We live in a city of over 30,000 people and outside a much larger city, so what are the chances?! I paid for the order behind me and left with my heart full and my smile wide.
Left bags of popcorn next to a Redbox. So it was FREE popcorn for anyone renting a movie that night.
Delivered special Down Syndrome awareness cookies to the local fire department. We had the cookies made at a local bakery because I could never make them look this good myself and we wanted to support a local business while promoting Down Syndrome awareness.
Dropped off pens to the NICU staff that cared for Augie for the first 6 weeks of his life. We wanted to include the staff that cared for our sweet boy in those first few weeks in our kindness acts, as a small "thank you" for taking such great care of him. He had a long list of medical issues that needed to be worked through and he was very sick. Our knowledgeable doctors and nurses took all the necessary steps to get him healthy enough for home. What a joyous day that was!
Dropped off more of our special Down Syndrome awareness cookies to the Ronald McDonald Family Room. The Ronald McDonald Family Room was a huge blessing to us during Augie's NICU stay. It allowed us to stay close to him, sleep in a comfortable bed, step away and unwind when needed, entertain our kids when visiting, grab a snack during the day, and more. The staff and volunteers in the NICU and at Ronald McDonald Family Room were top notch – kind, accommodating, and caring. We are forever grateful to all.
Delivered cookies to the local police department. Our good friends joined us for our 7th kindness act. We visited the local police station and dropped off our Down Syndrome awareness cookies.
Stopped by my dad's workplace (the kids' papa) with lots of yummy treats to share.
Delivered homemade soup to two deserving families.
We dropped off pens to the staff who cared for Augie when he was in heart failure and for open heart surgery. They literally saved his life by getting him healthy enough for surgery, fixing his heart, and taking all the necessary steps for a full recovery. We are forever grateful for their care. He is now 4 months post-surgery and doing GREAT!
Taped a Starbucks gift card and a Down Syndrome Awareness card to the inside of two library books, and then put them back on the shelf. ****This is one of my favorites of the 21.**** One book was a random selection by a favorite author (Jeannette Walls) and the other was an intentional selection to *hopefully* reach a parent to a child with Down Syndrome - possibly a new parent. "The parent's guide to Down Syndrome" is one of the books I read during pregnancy and it was so helpful! It's filled with helpful advice and stories from numerous families. I also left a handwritten note. It reads, "I trust that this note will make its way to the right person -- YOU. If you are reading this book then perhaps you are new to this journey (and even if not); know that everything will be ok. YOU will be okay. Down Syndrome is nothing to fear. It is beautiful. Our lives are better because of our son. Enjoy this book, your coffee, and the journey. ❤️ -- Augie's Mom." I really hope it ends up in the right person's hands - someone who needs the encouragement (and the coffee!).
Left a treat bag for our mail carrier.
Dropped off more treat bags to unsuspecting, yet deserving individuals at the Children's hospital: a receptionist, respiratory therapist, and security guard.
Madi delivered 23 treat bags and handmade cards (she is a self-proclaimed card maker) to friends in our neighborhood. I am proud of her for taking the lead on this kindness act and wanting to add her personal touch through handmade cards. I love her creative and fiery spirit, and her generous heart!
Visited Madi's first grade classroom! We brought cupcakes for the class, talked about Down Syndrome in kid-friendly terms, read a book, and gave them treat bags to take home. I think they really enjoyed our visit. They definitely enjoyed Augie! 😀
Dropped off snacks to our pediatrician's office. This group of nurses and doctors has been so supportive to our family, especially since Augie was born. 😃 What a great opportunity to show our appreciation to the whole staff!
Passed out bubbles to all of Beckett's friends at pre-school.
Paid for someone's gas. We taped a bag full of treats and a gift card for gas to the pump.
Delivered treat bags to Augie's early intervention team. Early intervention is a systematic program of therapy, exercises, and activities designed around developmental delays specific to the child. For Augie, this includes feeding therapy, early communication therapy, and occupational / physical therapy. We LOVE our therapists. They are knowledgeable, kind, encouraging, supportive and fun. And they celebrate with us as Augie continues to reach new milestones. Augie is like every other baby, although it may take him longer to reach certain developmental milestones. And it may not! Although developmental delays are common in children with Down syndrome, the delays are usually a matter of a few months and with proper early intervention, these developmental delays can be minimized. ALL kids develop at their own pace so we embrace Augie where he is and support him along his developmental path.
Put together a military care package. We sent love and support to our recently deployed nephew (and his platoon). Beef sticks, snacking nuts, pringles, starburst, nutri grain bars, 90 bars of soap, additional toiletries, games, laundry packets, and socks. Family pictures and handmade art by Madi rounded out this care package.
Delivered 51 "lovey" blankets to the Children's hospital to be delivered to babies in the NICU or undergoing heart surgery. Augie was just 5 weeks old when he had his first surgery, a rectal pull-through to correct his intestinal defect from Hirschsprung's Disease. Receiving our lovey was a bright spot in a dark and difficult time. It was comfort when we needed it. And kindness when we didn't expect it. ❤️ For our final kindness act, we partnered with Baby Jack & Co. and asked Augie's friends to donate loveys to bring comfort, courage, and support to families with babies in the hospital. We raised 51 loveys ($918) in just 5 days because our tribe is AWESOME!
In total, we distributed 150 Down Syndrome awareness cards and reached over 200 people locally (and many more virtually!). These are the people that Augie will encounter and interact with as he grows up. We are paving his path until he can take it up on his own (which he will do someday).
Thank you VERY MUCH for your encouragement throughout the month and for everyone who supported our fundraising efforts for loveys!! We appreciated every like, share and comment!!
Down Syndrome awareness, acceptance and inclusion are important to us not just in October, but all the year through. We will continue to do our part in educating, advocating and breaking down old stereotypes by sharing stories of Augie's life and journey.
We are glad you are here with us! Can't wait to do this again next year! XOXO.