I remember vividly attending our first Buddy Walk (now Buddy Fest NW). We were scared, overwhelmed new parents of a 2-month old baby named Parker who experiences Down syndrome. Parker was born with pulmonary hypertension and needed oxygen for the first few months of his life. We hopped the Max headed to Buddy Fest NW and, as the train took off, we opened ourselves up to a new journey and something that would eventually represent close friends and family support.
Today, we had an epic birthday party, as we do every year. I never know how many kids will come but each year it grows. It’s amazing to see the friendships that inclusion have developed for Parker, and how much his friends and peers value and respect him. Tonight Parker read most of his birthday cards on his own and I had to breathe deeply in order to maintain my composure.
Is this journey perfect? No. But when we get beaten down by the system or individuals, we choose to rise up and let our family’s values and beliefs lead the way.
Inclusion and community are everything and we would not be on this journey without the support of programs funded by donations raised at Buddy Fest NW. Parker’s Pirates will be there again this year and we hope to see you there!