Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Buddy Walk 2013

On a sunny Sunday afternoon on October 20, the Hemminger family plus Grandma Jan loaded into the car and headed to Tulsa for the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa's annual Buddy Walk. This lively event that celebrates individuals with Down syndrome and raises awareness is one we look forward to each year. Our fourth year to attend, this year's Buddy Walk was extra special for a number of reasons. For one, it was Joelle's first time to participate. I keenly remember the physical discomforts of last year's walk with a baby in the belly! Secondly, Grandma Jan was able to join us, not as an out-of-state guest in our home, but as our neighbor across the street! At this time last year, none of us could have imagined that she would have just moved to Oklahoma within a year. Having her here is such a gift for our family! The thing that made this year's walk the most special, however, was the joy of seeing Benjamin actually WALK during the Buddy Walk! What a celebration! Here is a photo album journey to commemorate the day:

Here's Benjamin picking a prize from the bucket. He tried to get a whole handful!
Daddy helped Benjamin "fish" for a prize.
They caught one!
Ring toss!
How does this work, Daddy?
He's not sure what to think of this game.
Father and son working together
He got the ball in the cup!
Spin the wheel for a prize!
My little man is sporting his new green beads!
Daddy's so fun!
My two sweeties!
Shoulder ride!
The walk has begun...
I get to hold Mommy and Grandma's hands!
Way to go, Benjamin!
Joelle's received a participation medal too. : )
Happy family!
We love Grandma Jan!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Low Down on Down Syndrome Awareness

October is National Down Syndrome Month:

Did you know?....

  • In 1866, John Langdon Down, an English physician, published a description of a person with Down syndrome. The syndrome was later named for him in acknowledgement of his historical work.  Benjamin is a child who happens to have Down syndrome. He is not a "Down's kid," and he is not a diagnosis.

  • Down syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that occurs in about 1 in 800 live births. For some unexplained reason, an error in cell developement results in 47 chromosomes rather than the usual 46. There's nothing we did to cause it, and there's nothing we could do to prevent it.

  • There are many medical challenges that a child with Down syndrome faces. Most of them are treatable with the advances of modern medicine. Heart defects occur in about 40% of the Down syndrome population. God blessed us with an amazing heart surgeon, and He has seen us through each new challenge. Benjamin now has a healthy heart!

  • People with Down syndrome are more likely normally developing individuals than they are different. There is a great diversity within the population in terms of personality, intelligence, appearance, emotions and attitude. Benjamin cannot and should not be put in a box. He is his own unique person, lovingly created by the same God who made you and me!

  • Thousands of people with Down syndrome are livng their lives without fame or fanfare and transforming their communities just be being there. Our son is already making a difference in the lives of many people.

  • Individuals with Down syndrome may be identified by physical characteristics which may or may not be present themselves in any one individual. One such characteristic is the beautiful almond shaped eyes. Benjamin does have beautiful eyes, but when we look at him we don't see Down syndrome, we see our son.

  • Down syndrome can occur anywhere in the birth order (first, middle or last). It occurs evenly in boys and girls and in all races, nationalities and ethnic groups. Benjamin is an awesome big brother and is adored by his baby sister!

  • On standard IQ tests, children with Down syndrome most often score in the mild to moderate range of mental retardation. These tests do not measure many important areas of intelligence, and you will often be surprised by the memory, insight, creativity, and cleverness of these children. Benjamin has surprised us many times, and we are so proud of him!

  • About 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under the age of 35. I was 5 days shy of 27 when my son was born.

  • The medical term for Down syndrome is Trisomy 21. It is so named because there is an extra chromosome associated with the 21st pair of chromosomes. And we love all 47!

  • About 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States every year. The national population of individuals with Down syndrome is estimated to be 350,000. At first it was easy to ask "Why me?" However, our lives have been enriched through this journey of raising a child with Down syndrome, and we are so grateful to have Benjamin as our son.
(*Information taken from the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa 2010 calendar)