|Some of the kids showing appreciation for the guest of honor.|
The party to recognize all those that helped bring Simon and Tigger together was a HUGE success (and I mean that literally -- there were well over 100 people in attendance!). Thank you to everyone that came out to celebrate with us -- It was a beautiful day and a beautiful reason to throw a party.
|Me with the awesome band, Confidence in Volume!|
Before our awesome band played, I took a moment to personally thank everyone -- here is (more or less) what I said:
This party is not about a dog -- albeit it an absolutely adorable super hero dog. It still isn't about the dog.
This party is about a little boy who, in his first six years, has encountered challenges that most of us would not be able to survive and still be standing; from a stroke before he was born, to three life-threatening status seizures over the last 18 months, to more diagnosis than I care to think about. And Simon has not just survived -- he has thrived. This has been a year of incredible progress for Simon.This year he had a favorite color, deepened his love of all things pirate, and taught everyone some new songs. He also wrote his name and read his first book. This year, in kindergarten, Simon made his first friends. He had his first play date and he had his first ever birthday party (that he helped plan! Pirate themed...). Most recently, Simon got his first dog and with it his first responsibilities in helping to care for Tigger.
Simon has had an incredible year, and we are profoundly grateful. We are grateful for his indomitable spirit and amazing resilience, and we are grateful to the many people that worked with him, cared for him, befriended him, and let him into their hearts to love him.
Which brings me to what this party is really, REALLY about -- the reason it was so important to our family to get everyone together that has so positively impacted us this year -- this party is about YOU. Our family, our friends, our community.
One of my many faults is not knowing when, or being able, to ask for help. The people that love me know this and, as soon as we started to talk about a seizure dog and said the word "deposit" my parents and the rest of our family were there (as they have always been), this time literally with cash in hand and not taking "no" for an answer. I am grateful that they did.
|Mom and Dad chasing the kids!|
|I am unspeakably lucky in my friends!|
Simon's school, Lutherville Lab, not only took amazing care of Simon this year, but have completely embraced our entire family and been right beside us in looking for solutions to make sure that we do everything we can to keep Simon safe. I honestly don't know of another school that would say to a parent (without knowing what sort of legal challenges bringing a service dog into their school would present) -- "Whatever we have to do, we will do it. We are here with you."
|Some of the great ladies from Lutherville Lab|
At his own birthday party, Jaidon asked not for gifts for himself but for his friends to give him gift cards to Petsmart and Petco so that he could give them to Simon to help buy what Tigger would need when he came home with us (Tigger says thank you for the toys!).
|Simon with some of the great stuff for Tigger we were able to get with Jaidon's gift cards!|
"Club Friends" created by a group of students at Lutherville Lab to be a club for kids both with and without special needs to celebrate friendship and share their kindred spirit with the community through good works; waged a "Cents for Simon" campaign that raised impressive funds, awareness, and an amazing affection for Simon throughout their school and beyond (we have heard fifth graders describe Simon as the most popular kid in the school -- I have a feeling that Tigger is going to totally lock that in for next year, too!).
|Simon at school with his teacher, friends, and Tigger!|
Finally, Simon's kindergarten friends this year, and his teacher and aide Mrs. McGee and Mrs. Natterman. These were the most enthusiastic supporters of the "Cents for Simon" campaign; canvassing their friends and relatives for support, creating lemonade stands and wearing their "Help Simon get a Seizure dog" pins with pride. This year -- seeing how Simon is not only accepted by these awesome kids, but cared for, helped, and genuinely loved by his classmates, has been the most profound gift this mom could have ever received.
People typically throw parties like this to celebrate milestones in their life -- to recognize an important place they have reached and to celebrate with the people that have helped them get there. This year, we have gone from feeling frightened for our son's well-being, to being embraced and uplifted by our family, friends, community, even people we don't know -- together, we have experienced a true miracle, and I can't thank you enough for being a part of it. I will carry this in my heart always and I know that years from now, when Simon is encountering more challenges as we all inevitably do, I will have the story of what happened here to remind him of how loved he is, how great people can be, and how miracles really can happen.
|Our awesome school-bus-driver-ice-cream-man made a special appearance with his truck for the occasion. He was just as popular as Tigger!|
|Beanie Baby Service Pups in Training for everyone to take home!|
|Simon had so much fun he required a two-hour post party nap.|
|This about sums it up. :-)|