Monday, May 15, 2006

Moms and $350G

I have so much to catch everyone up on and will do my best in the coming days to fill in some gaps of the past two weeks. For now, I will simply give a quick update on how we spent Mother's Day.

I woke up to a "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!" from Jake as he presented me with probably my 6th homemade mother's day card. I'll have to remember to scan one of them. He is so clever. He found another card that had the correct spelling on it and he copied the words out. Grandad Brian had spent the night and we all got ready for the big day ahead.

We arrived at Mel Lastman's Sq around 9am and the rain somehow managed to hold off. The Autism Speaks/NAAR Walk for Autism was a great success. It's hard to put into words what made it so special, but it was probably the joy in knowing we were contributing to something that was bigger than us. So many people have supported our family to assist the boys, but we were finally able to give something back to the greater cause. There were over 2500 people out for the walk and everyone was smiling. Knowing that so many of the people who were there had probably spent weeks collecting donations, it makes me appreciate families who are living with autism even more. Because any of us who live in Ontario know that the funding is not ideal, if it's provided at all and I'm sure that many of those who collected would have loved to have collected those dollars to directly help their kids. I personally feel very proud that our Willowjak Team raised as much as it did to help fund Autism research because it makes me feel like Owen, Will and Jake are making a real contribution to ensure that no other families who come after us, have to deal with the same struggles that we do.

Our team consisted of Grandad Brian, Grandma Wendy, my dear friend Lauren, our girls- Emma and Bronwyn, Diane - our "can't live without", the biggest cheerleader who's ever lived- Auntie Shelley and Michelle and the five of us. We all wore our new Willowjak t-shirts and Mom had a 6ft banner made up with the boys' logo and pictures. We made the Sunday evening news and Jake was seen waving to the camera. I am proud to report that as a team we raised over $1500.00!!! Jake was personally responsible for raising $142.00 after walking door-to-door with Diane earlier in the week. He is very proud of himself, as he should be.

The walk was an easy one and it passed by very quickly with Lauren and I gabbing all the way. A point of interest is that Lauren currently appears in the two new East Side Mario commercials that are out right now. I have heard them, but never paid enough attention to see her, so I'll be watching for her now. We saw a lot of faces that we had met at previous rallies and such and also spent a few minutes chatting with MP Shelley Martel. The boys did so well and I was so happy that they lasted through the whole walk, content in their wagon. As soon as I have some photos, I will include them later in this entry.

All in all, it was a great Mother's Day. It was definitely a day to reflect on how my vision of being a mom has changed since the last Mother's Day passed in 2005. What a year it has been. But I am so proud of my sons and each day they bring me new joy. I really wouldn't have them any other way.
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Walk raises $350Gs for autism research
By NICK KYONKA, TORONTO SUN Source

Yesterday may have been Mother's Day, but it was all about the kids at the Toronto Walk for Autism Research.

About 2,500 people took part in the morning stroll around Mel Lastman Square, helping to raise an estimated $350,000 for autism research and awareness campaigns.

"I think we did really well today," said Jyoti Sanwalka, one of the organizers of the walk. "We had a lot of people out, but the nice thing is, they weren't all just parents. We had a lot of support from the community at large."

Affecting about one in every 166 children, autism limits a person's ability to communicate and build social relationships with others.

Yesterday's event was organized by the Canadian branch of non-profit organization Autism Speaks.

The group also helps to educate people about autism, helping parents spot the signs while it is still in the early stages of development.

"A lot of the issue is learning the early warning signs of what autism is," said Suzanne Lanthier, regional director for Autism Speaks and the mother of a 6-year-old autistic son, Scotty.

"The younger kids get diagnosed, the younger they can get treatments and the better off they'll be in the long run."

As for her son, Lanthier credits his early diagnosis with helping him to slowly develop his communication skills.

"There's a lot of families who have children that will never speak," Lanthier said. "I feel lucky that he can ask me for things, tell me he loves me and say hello to me.

"There's families that will never get that."

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