November and December news

*****UPDATE**** The ABLE act has passed the House and the Senate and is now with the President to be signed. So many people have helped to pass it. I can say I started in 2010 when I went to the NDSS Buddy walk on Washington, so proud to be a part of it!!!*****

This last month I had a another speech at the Crouse College of Nursing and spoke about Gigi’s Playhouse and what the playhouse has to offer for the younger children and the program’s we currently have for the individuals that are older. I thought it went very well. They had questions that were pretty good.

Gigi’s Playhouse held their Anniversary party, it was a pretty good crowd that showed up to celebrate. The time has flown by!

I was asked to be a judge in a male contest called Mr. Pink for the second year. It was held at Pensabene’s Casa Grande to benefit Breast Cancer awareness. The judging was based on talent, beach wear, introductions and final questions. The winner from the year before got to crown this year’s Mr. Pink. It was a huge success and a lot of fun!

The beginning of November was of course election time. Last summer I was at a Chief’s game and met John Katko who was running for Congress. He gave me one of his shirts and we took a picture together. A couple of weeks before the election, we ran into him again at our Church Bazaar and he remembered me. We talked and he gave me his business card so I gave him mine. He said, a motivational speaker, you should be speaking for me, we laughed and he said he would talk to us later, I was with my parents. Then the Monday before the election, my mother and I left the house and drove to my Drama class. My Dad got home and there was a message on the machine. It sounded like a regular election call but it wasn’t. He was calling for me, he wanted to make sure that we got out to vote and said after the election he wanted to talk to me to be an advisor for him if he won. How cool is that. He won!! I know he is very busy now getting all set up in Congress so I am waiting to hear from him, it will be sweet.

I haven’t been blogging much because I had to write a paper for my class and take an exam so I really had to concentrate on that. I just finished my course at LeMoyne and I passed my final exam with 70 and now I am waiting for my final grade. I just found out my grade for the paper was a 23 out of 30 which is a 76. I had two awesome tutors that aided me in writing my paper, one was a writing tutor, her name was Hanna. My tutor Kate helped me get my homework done, get it in on time and making sure it looked good before handing it in or submitting it. She also helped with my paper. I couldn’t have done it without them. Nina my mentor was a huge help with my open book tests and extra credit and Jess taking the class with me. I am lucky and thankful for all of them.

This brings me to Thanksgiving, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and have been thinking of all of the things that I am thankful for, like my two jobs, at Gigi’s and Paparazzi’s. I am thankful for all of my speeches that I have been doing lately. I’m thankful for my family and friends, one friend that I am thankful is well again! I am thankful that I am a self advocate that can speak up for some of my friends and others that can not speak up. I am thankful to God for everything I have, shelter, clothes for my body, and food on my table because I know that other people don’t have all that.

To start off December, I spoke at Liverpool High School. I spoke about bullying and the use of the R word and how very hurtful it is. My cousin Michael talked to his teacher about me coming in and that was pretty cool.

I also did the polar plunge again this year. I dressed as the Ice Queen of Hearts and plunged in the freezing cold water, we raised about 3200 dollars. I spoke there to a huge crowd about my polar plunge partner and coach Doug Klepper. He is retiring from Coaching. I am very sad that he will no longer coach with Special Olympics. He is definitely family.I will miss him but I was glad he committed to plunging with me again next year! Yea Doug!

I did take that road test again that I told you to check back on, and again I did not pass. This time it was due to parallel parking. Lisa my instructor said I psych myself out so we aren’t going to do a lesson right before the test again. Usually my parallel parking is pretty good. Ok, so the 4th time is a charm, right?

Last Saturday I was with my parents selling papers and collecting outside for the Old Newsboys. We collect for the childrens toy fund. We did pretty well. Afterward we went to Dinosaur bbq for a celebratory lunch.

I decided I will finish December when I do January’s blog because it is just so crazy busy with Christmas coming up, so to all of you, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year!

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Down Syndrome Awareness month

This month was very busy, let me start out by saying October is Down Syndrome Awareness month.

Let me tell you what it means to me. Families, advocates,and self advocates celebrate the advocacy and the awareness of Down Syndrome. We want everyone to realize our potential, how much we are capable of, that we are valuable, that we do the same things everyone else does, maybe it takes us a little longer, maybe it doesn’t. Some people without Down syndrome never drive, I intend on getting my license, some never go to college, I have 15 hours toward my Associate’s degree. We want people to know that they should never under estimate us. The sky is our limit, Kelly Hampton says something like we just have to push throught the ceiling!

In the beginning of this month Gigi’s Playhouse, where I work, held their 5 K run and walk, it was cool and literately cold with rain. Me and my Mom came out and walked it. It was successful a lot of people attended the event even though it was yucky out. I had a good time, I was a little tired afterwards .

This month I also had a few presentations, I had one at Syracuse University and spoke about not using the R word and how it hurts us even when people are saying it casually and not about someone.
I went to Cato where they had a 5K to benefit Special Olympics and I spoke there to kick it off. They had a shorter fun run that I participated in. I was tired and out of breath after the fact but I did it, maybe next year I will be able to run the Gigi’s 5K. I am trying to lose some weight and that may make it easier. It was exciting, my Mom and I both won a raffle.
I was the keynote speaker at Belhurst Castle for the Fingerlakes Collaborative Self Advocates, I told them my story and hope I helped inspire some of them. Some people from other Self Advocate groups from around the state came to me and told me they really liked my speech and asked me if I would come and present to their groups. Woo hoo!
The other night I presented at the Oswego Phoenix Center to a group of future teachers taking graduate classes, some of them were going to be Art teachers, some Science and Math and some in Special Education. I talked to them about my background in schooling and what has been going on in my life, driving, going to LeMoyne college and taking one course a semester and doing well in it. I was relaxed talking to them and I was feeling happy and content to talk to a group of teachers about what they can accomplish in their future classrooms. Their questions were great. I enjoy speaking to many different audiences and I am always looking forward to the next speech, which is next month.

This month I had a couple of Special Olympics competitions, we had State games in Glens Falls I went for Bocce. We left on Friday the 17th, there were 8 of us athletes in the vans and my parents were the coaches and drivers. The other athletes were all on one bus. Our hotel was far away from the other athletes but that was ok. We got there early and my parents had read they had a pool so we brought our suits and the girls went in the pool and hot tub, that was cool, we never get to do that during Special Olympics. They had a Harvest dance before dinner and opening ceremonies. The Harvest dance was really nice, they had a DJ and great dancers leading us in different dances. It was nice because we didn’t get a dance on Saturday like we sometimes have, they had some games, and then we had opening ceremonies and they were short, that was ok because we had to get up early the next day for competition. Both teams did very well, our team won a gold medal and the other a silver medal, pretty good huh.

Last Saturday I had a bowling competition and bowled pretty well I got over 100 in two of my games and in the third game I bowled just under the 100 mark. I came in 2nd place, I was pretty happy with that. YAY!

That same night when after we came back from Fulton we went to a church event and they had raffles, wine tasting, and casino games to play. My parents and I played blackjack and that was fun. I won some and lost some. But that is how you play the game.

That was all the good news, now here is the bad news, I took my second road test and yet again failed. I missed a stop sign that was a double stop sign. I also hit a curb, both things were at the end of the test. I was that close to passing, ouch. The examiner actually told my instructor that I should come back because I did well, so I do have a third road test in December, early in the month, so wish me luck again and stop back to see how I did. I’m saying the third time is a charm, right!

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Busy September month

I started out a busy September with a couple of Presentations. I had a public speaking engagement early in the month in Oswego to future teachers, a small group but it went well. I have spoke to groups for Professor Dougherty before, it’s really nice that she asks me back. I hope it is helpful to future teachers for their future students that they look at us as having abilities not disabilities.

I also went to the Crouse Nursing program at the Marley building. I presented to future nurses. I talked to them about Down Syndrome and Gigi’s Playhouse and what it means to have the baby and how important it is to give them current information so they don’t tell new parents incorrect facts. I told them it is not a sad diagnosis and I am proof of that! It is nice that they can see how far a sick baby (like I was) can progress, so they can see the whole picture and not make any assumptions. I gave them information on the Playhouse so parents have a place they can make contacts with people going through the same things.

September was a very busy month I had a couple of Special Olympic events going on. September 20th was Bocce competition. Our Bocce club went to the Toccolano Club in Rome New York. Two teams came in second place, my team and another team came in Third place, and one of the teams came in 1st place. We had fun!

A week ago I had a softball competition and played two teams we lost both games but got a 3rd place medal. I had a lot of fun. It is exciting to win, but I was so tired that week, I was so busy.

The day before competition we went to the Turning Stone casino to see Kathleen Madigan, a comic who is very funny. I can’t remember the name of the guy who opened up for her but he was very good also. I like hanging out with my parents and going to cool places like that. It was my first time to a real, comedy club. We had dinner at a place there, The Tin Rooster and we gambled a little afterward, luckily I did come home with some of my money.

The day after competition was the Buddy Walk and I was working with my mom that day and helping her with the raffles and getting my mom set up and running. I was there early, 7:30 am. I helped her out a lot before and at the start of the walk. Gigi’s Playhouse was also there, set up near the raffle tent. I was working a double shift because I worked over there for a little while also. I love the Buddy Walk seeing over 2,000 people there supporting all of us with Down syndrome. It makes me happy, but I was tired, it was a long day.

I have been taking classes at LeMoyne college. I am in a Sociology course and it has been going pretty well, so far a 90 average, cool right. I feel very happy and excited about that and hope I can get an A in the class whoo hoo.

Speaking of Down Syndrome, October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, it is to celebrate the awareness and advocacy of Down Syndrome. I hope everyday that I create awareness of the things all of us with Down Syndrome are capable of. I hope someday we won’t have to have an Awareness and Advocacy month, that it will be a given, but for now I will do everything I can to help get to that point.

October is looking to be a busy month as well. I have about 5 Presentations and I will take my second road test, so stop back and see how I did and wish me luck!

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Future teachers

Today I went to a school in Fulton, NY to do a presentation to future teachers. The class was made up of future teachers that will be student teaching next semester at the elementary school we were in. I tell them how I learned best while in school and to never underestimate my and the abilities of those of us that are differently-abled. I took some questions about education, and my accomplishments. I took a picture with them. I like speaking to groups like that and hope that I make a difference to how they teach or treat someone differently abled. It was a small group of about 20 to 25 people.

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Motorcycle Ride

Today, my friend from church Jack Sheean came to my house and took me for a nice long motorcycle ride we were out for a couple of hours. I had an awesome time with the wind whipping in my face sometimes cold and sometimes warm. I went through Jamesville, Weedsport, Skaneateles, and Auburn. He took me out to lunch, we went to Quaker Steak and Lube, it was very good. I love riding with him, it is always fun. This was my second ride of the year and I love every bit. Thanks very much Jack I had a blast!

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Gigi’s Playhouse

As you know I work at Gigi’s Playhouse, as the Assistant Site Coordinator and I used to share an office with Angela, she is the new Site Director of the Playhouse, so welcome Angela. I enjoy working with her and we have been making some changes. One of the new changes we made together, was me getting my own office, I am right next door to her so we have been collaborating and working well together. I love my new space, it is very comfortable and roomy. I now feel more indepedent and I like it a lot.

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Casowasco

This Sunday I am going to camp for a couple of days I will be doing a bunch of activities like going in the water, in a boat, bible reading and hanging out with friends, I will be doing some creative activities as well. I am looking forward to spending time with my friends and making new friends. I leave Sunday by 4 and come back on Wednesday in the afternoon. I am planning on having a good time with camp fires, singing and everything. I look forward to it every year.

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Brody’s Buddy Ride

This morning, was a very early start, 5 in the morning and had to be to Utica by 7 in the morning.I kicked off the Bike Run, I spoke around 7:15 ish. I encouraged and supported them as they left to ride their bikes for 63 miles. Why 63 miles you ask? People with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome on the 21st, and a 3rd copy of that so you multiply the two for the miles they had to bike for. I had a good time speaking and it was a blast.

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Another semester at LeMoyne College

Wow does the time go so fast. I am almost getting ready for school again. In two weeks I am going to take a Sociology class. I am looking forward to the upcoming semester. I hope the teacher I am going to have is going to be as supportive as my other teacher from last semester. I hope that I can do as well as I did last time. Wish me luck everyone. It’s pretty cool taking classes at LeMoyne.

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Breanna Stewart

I went to the Special Olympics at CNS this year and Breanna Stewart was the keynote speaker like I have been in the past. I got to meet her and hang out with her. I like meeting new people and she is really cool, just recently we have been emailing each other and catching each other up our summers. She told me that she is going back to school soon and she said to let her know if I want to see her play basketball. She is on the Women’s UCONN Huskies team. How cool is that, I am definitely looking forward to seeing her play sometime.

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