Better late than never, a continuation of my time at the NDSC Convention........There were three highlights to the 2nd day of the Convention. The first was being able to meet in person many moms that I have gotten to know through their blogs over the past year. They include: Jennifer from Three's a Charm, Monica from Monkey Musings, Danielle from Forever Better, Catherine from Hang on Little Tomato, Cori from Our Bundle of Joy, Lisa from Genetically Enhanced, Carol from Little Miss Magic, Chrystal from One More, More than One and Carin from Learning as I Go. It was wonderful to meet and get to spend time with this amazing group of moms. I also loved meeting their adorable children who really are even cuter in person!
The second highlight was a speech given by Christi Hockel, a lovely young woman who has Down syndrome. She was hilarious. She definitely has a gift for public speaking and had the crowd laughing out loud time and time again. She spoke of her many accomplishments which include having a drivers license, living in her own apartment, taking college courses and being on the NDSC board. But, more importantly, she talked about the many things in her life that make her happy......her big family (I think she said she has 35 nieces and nephews), her fiance who she will marry this fall, her job, exercising and volunteering in her community. You can tell without a doubt that she is happy, genuinely happy - and isn't that what we all want for our kids??
The third highlight was the dinner/dance. During the dinner, numerous awards were presented. All of the recipients have played a part in bettering the lives of people with Down syndrome. Two really stood out to me. First was Ryan Rotundo who has lead the NDSC's Brothers and Sister Conference for several years. He has put alot of time and energy into ensuring that the Brothers and Sister's Conference at the NDSC Convention is a success. He thanked his mom and dad for all of their help and encouragement, then thanked his sister, who has Down syndrome, for being "the best teacher of all." I watched him and envisioned the impact Brennan will have on Jenna, Tanner and Parker. I hope they will feel the way Ryan does about his sister. Then there was Mike Machado, a football coach who was inspired by his team manager who has Down syndrome to establish a football camp specifically for athletes with Down syndrome. They showed a clip of the kids at camp and the excitement they felt came right through the screen. I am so grateful for Mike and other like him who do not have a familial connection to someone with Down syndrome, but are making a positive difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome. The night ended with music and lots of dancing - I've never seen a dance floor fill up so quickly. It was the perfect ending to a very memorable day.