Yes, it is!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Have Been Inspired Once Again

I don't know why it took me so long to come up with an idea after yesterday's debacle with Jackie at the egg hunt.  Wait... I know why.  It was because in the past, I let my anger  and hurt for my daughter get in the way.  You see, she struggled during egg hunts and would always come away nearly empty handed and in tears.  It broke my heart to see my little girl struggle.  For a couple of years, I didn't even bother to take my children to egg hunts and I would even hope and pray that they wouldn't mention going to one.  It seemed like Jackie would always get trampled or kids would grab an egg from Jackie just as she was reaching for it.  And it hurt to have to just stand back and watch from the side.
Jackie may look "normal" but the hemiparesis on her left side still causes problems for her in some ways.  Like with the egg hunt, she can drape her basket from her left arm while using her strong right hand to pick up eggs.  But, she does not have the quick enough reflexes to protect herself from others who grab the egg from her.  I know it shouldn't bother me, but it does.  Especially when I have to deal with a hurting little girl.  It hurts me to see my Jackie hurt.
So yesterday (Saturday), we were invited to attend an Easter event at a church very close to where we live.  There was an egg hunt, drawings for bicycles, face painting, balloons, cake walk, food, and more.  It was such a beautiful day for it.  For the egg hunt, there were different sections based on age groups.  Since I took the kids alone and Ben was 4 years old, I had to let Jackie be on her own at her age group section.  However, I was still able to keep an eye on her from a distance while I stayed at Ben's section.   Ben did a good job collecting eggs.  As soon as it appeared his section had picked up all of the eggs, I ran over to Jackie's section to retrieve her.  Just as I got there, Jackie saw me and immediately ran over to me and started to cry.  She said that some of the kids kept grabbing eggs from her hand just as she was picking them up.  She was able to get 4-5 eggs while most of the other kids had full or nearly full baskets.  Then when she saw how many eggs Ben was able to pick up, she couldn't help but cry even more.  My heart hurt for my little girl.  I was immediately reminded of the time when Jackie was 4 years old.  I had taken her to the church across from where we live.  Jackie had recently fractured her clavicle and she was wearing a figure 8 brace.  On top of that, she had minimal use of her left hand.  Since it was so crowded, the workers allowed me to help Jackie by holding her basket while she picked up eggs.  As soon as the whistle sounded, the kids took off.  I tried to help Jackie but every time she would reach down to pick up an egg, another kid would grab it away.  It took everything in me to not say something to one of them.  When it was over, Jackie ended up with no eggs at all.  However, one little girl noticed that Jackie didn't have any eggs in her basket so she put an egg in there.  Sweet.  That was the last public egg hunt we had gone to until yesterday.  For the past couple of years, we did our own egg hunt at home.
So yesterday, after the egg hunt, we all gathered around a stage for a little entertainment. Jackie seemed to really enjoy the show.  While I sat there watching my daughter enjoy the entertainment, I couldn't help but reflect on what had just happened and feel a twinge of sadness for Jackie.  She looks so "normal" but certain things are still a struggle for her.  In the past, I admit that I have gotten a bit angry inside at the treatment she encountered at events such as these, but this time was different.  I wasn't angry.  I began to think.  And wonder, was there anything in our area for those who have special needs?  Could I recall a time when I saw somebody in a wheelchair participate in an egg hunt?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  I know there are all sorts of events throughout the year for those who are on the autism spectrum. Then the idea hit me.  I should look into putting together an egg hunt next year for those who are in wheelchairs. And for those who have limitations in mobility.  For those, with any type of special need, who might otherwise avoid egg hunts.  Ideas started to come to me about how I could put together an event such as this.  But... how could I plan an egg hunt for those who use wheelchairs or walkers?  Then, another thought.  I'll somehow put together something on a hard surface.  Put up some props, maybe in somewhat of an obstacle course, and place eggs within reach of a wheelchair bound person.  And for those who are mobile, I can plan a "regular" hunt on the lawn.  I know I can do this.
And then I thought about how I can teach sharing and helping.  One rule of the egg hunt would be no grabbing eggs from others but if you see a friend struggling to reach an egg, then go over and pick that egg up and hand it over to that person.  I want this egg hunt to be fair to all who participate.  I want to open it up to all ages who have some type of limitation, from mild to severe.
Just as everything was wrapping up at this event, I encountered a girl who I recognized from Zumba.  She came over and said hello, hugged me, and then asked if we enjoyed it.  I told her yes.  But then, I elaborated by explaining what happened with Jackie and how ideas started to come to me about what I can do next year for special needs individuals.  Then she took off and came back with another lady who happened to put together this year's event.  She immediately apologized for what happened to my daughter but I told her that no apology was needed because this only inspired me to take action next year to reach out to our special needs community.  This lady, Kim, immediately agreed that there is a need for this and promised to put together such an event next year.  Oh no, I told her that I want to be a big part of this, too. After all, I was the one who was inspired by seeing the struggle that my daughter went through.  Kim promised to be in touch.
I am already so excited about planning next year's special event.  I know I can do it.  This would be another good way for me to get out of my comfort zone and become involved in the community. And I would love to see it become a yearly event. 
So now, what to do?  When do I start to plan?  What all will I need to buy?  What kind of prizes do I buy? How do I pay for it all?  Do I ask for donations?  That last one would be a difficult one for me to do but I know I can do it.  I have so many questions and thoughts swirling in my head already.  Can you tell I'm excited about this?  I often doubt myself and think that I'm not capable of being a leader.  But this time, I'm going to do it.  And it's all for my precious daughter and others like her.


Anonymous said...

Samantha - what an excellent idea. Start planning now. Ask the community for a commitment for donations. I would write up a nice letter just like what you did here, and explain where your inspiration came from. I look forward to hearing more. Annette Jones

Annette said...

What a awesome idea. If you start now you might be able to get a lot of the left over Easter toys and plastic eggs for next year. You could approach stores and ask them to donate them to your cause or ask your friends to donate their plastic eggs to you for next year rather than throwing them out. I bet you could even get some newspapers or tv stations to advertise the event for you next year.