Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Advocacy #28: RUN

John takes over tonight for one of the kinds of advocacy that I have stayed away from… running.

When Tessa was about a month old, Maggie signed us up for a seminar on inclusion.  If you haven’t figured this out already, Maggie is a bit of a planner (this is also known around the world as a diagnosis of “Type A”).  Anyway, my planning wife was planning for our daughter’s future school three years in advance, while I was just trying to get through a Saturday.

While Mag walked into the seminar with a plan for our future… I walked into the seminar (begrudgingly, I might add, as I am still aiming for personal growth in the advocacy department) with no plan and no idea what I was in for.  When I sat down, I noticed a brochure to be part of the Ups for DownS Charity Running Team.  I looked through the information and here’s what it boiled down to:

  • Run the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half
  • Raise money for Ups for DownS
  • Raise awareness for Down syndrome

I took home the brochure and told Mag that I felt compelled to run and she told me I had her whole support.  She was tired of me doing races just for “fun” because she always said I could just do that on the street for free.  Being a charity runner made much more sense to her.  Her support was really important because in training, I can be gone on these runs for 2 or 3 hours sometimes.  And while I’m gone enjoying my music and shuffling along, she is there taking care of every burning need of my children.  To those of you who say it’s only a couple hours…clearly you haven’t met my children.  Sorry…back on topic.

When I signed up I thought:  Well, it’s for a good cause, it will be fun to run a race in Chicago, why not?   I mean, the worst case scenario was that I would end up paying most of my commitment to fundraise $250, but it would still be for a good cause and I didn’t really care if that happened.  Two years later, Team Tessa has collectively raced over 100 miles, raised over $8,000 and had 8 people join our team in support of a great cause.

Here’s the point I would like to make about running and advocacy… just like running, sometimes advocacy is difficult.  At times it’s hard to keep advocacy in mind.  At times advocacy asks us to step our of our comfort zone and step up for the people we care about.  And at times running for a cause seems as substantial or more so than those other challenges.  But here’s the thing:  People in our life continue to step up to support her and people like her.  You see, advocacy doesn’t have to be grand and with pomp and circumstance.  Sometimes it can be as simple as shuffling one mile after another to run for a little girl who deserves our love and acceptance just the way she is.  Thanks to all of you that do that…and a shameless plug here: There’s always room on Team Tessa for more runners!

IMG_5987

IMG_8973

Leave a comment »

Team Tessa Take 2!

Events in life that really, truly merit a 3:30 AM alarm clock buzz are few and far between.  For labor, I’ll allow it.  A flight to some exotic paradise, it’s not off the table. Otherwise, 3:30 is not an hour that I have any appreciation for.

For Team Tessa, I’ll make an exception.

When we woke the girls up at that ungodly hour (which was so appropriately deemed “night time” by Ellie), they were rarin’ to go.  Bleary eyed adults piled into our van for the trek to the city, wondering what in the world we were thinking getting up so early but the girls?  The girls were ON.

IMG_8964

IMG_8969

In case you can’t tell, that’s me looking exhausted, Ellie looking annoyed at another picture being taken and Tessa with her best “I’m not impressed” face.

We had an amazing team running for UPS for DownS again this year.  With the help of friends, family, coworkers and totally random, awesome people (seriously), we raised over $4,000 for the group.  It takes a lot of courage to sign up for any running event in Chicago in July and today’s heat and humidity were unrelenting.  I’m so thankful for these amazing people and their dedication to running for Tessa.

IMG_8973

And of course, the spectators are pretty awesome, too.

IMG_8974

The rock, the glue, the heart of this team, John has fought through late night and early morning runs, calf pain, exhaustion, and an irritated wife to make this happen.  His dedication to the cause, like his dedication to our girl, is unbelievable.

IMG_8982

IMG_8983

Despite the 90 degree heat and 95% humidity, we had a great day!  And since I’ve been up since night time, rather than lots of words, you’ll have to settle for photo evidence…

IMG_8987

IMG_8994

IMG_9005 IMG_9006

IMG_9009 IMG_9012 IMG_9023

IMG_9024

IMG_9034 IMG_9043 IMG_9045 IMG_9048 IMG_9051

IMG_9035

IMG_9053

1 Comment »

Team Tessa Rocks Chicago

The last week and a half was so busy and went so fast that I’m trying to figure out if it actually really happened or not.  I’m looking forward to sharing some pictures from our great vacation in Saugatuck, Michigan.  But first, we had the most amazing day on Sunday.  Team Tessa absolutely rocked the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon and 5k!

We raised over $5,000 for our favorite parent support group, UPS for DownS and were the top fundraising team for our group.  When totaled, all of the runners who came out to race raised over $34,000!!!  Amazing!!

Team Tessa is ready to race!!

IMG_5987

While the day started a LOT earlier than any of us would have liked (especially me, as we were at a wedding the night before…), it was so cool to walk through the city early in the morning, watching the sun rise up over the buildings as 30,000 runners made their way to the starting line.  Ellie was very excited to see the skyscrapers and to wear her Team Tessa t-shirt.

Ellie can’t believe that she has her two favorite people, her grandmas, (almost) all to herself!

IMG_5992

As we waited for the race to start, Tessa managed to have her own little monumental moment… she held her bottle on her own for two full ounces!!  I was able to send this picture to John right before he started running:

IMG_5993

But apparently, that milestone really took it out of our little rock star, because she slept for most of the rest of the race…

IMG_6016

 

Ellie had a great day too, despite the fact that she got up at 5:00 in the morning.  She managed to be three-year-old-meltdown-free until we didn’t let her take off her shoes in Subway after the race.  She loved watching the race with her Papa.

IMG_6004

 

Somewhere between miles 4 and 5, we saw some of the racers.  Clearly, they weren’t too worried about their time, because they took a second to say hello!

Waiting for the finish, the Team Tessa supporters who were able to come to the race on Sunday gathered for a cute picture.

IMG_6015

While I hoped to catch all of our runners out on the course, three of them were just too fast for me.  But  here’s a picture of John and Uncle Mike crossing the finish line:

IMG_6018

 

It was such an awesome, inspiring day.  We met some great people, enjoyed the great city of Chicago, were blown away by the supporters of our group… and were amazed at the outpouring of love and support from our family and friends.  We can’t wait for next year’s event!!

IMG_5986

2 Comments »