Today is the beginning of Down syndrome awareness month. Yep, October isn’t just about breast cancer awareness (which is just as important!). In 1984, President Reagan signed a resolution declaring October “National Down Syndrome Month”. I was never aware that October was a month for raising awareness for anything but breast cancer. I’ve participated in many breast cancer walks, raised money for breast cancer research at my previous workplaces, and worn pink to football games in October. Funny how you sometimes don’t become aware until you’re personally affected. I wish the media, NFL, and other national organizations showed as much support for Down syndrome awareness as they do for breast cancer. I’m not saying less for breast cancer awareness – my family has been personally affected by breast cancer and I think the cause for a cure should be supported and celebrated – I just wish you’d see as much blue and yellow (I think those are the official Down syndrome awareness colors?) as you do pink in October. I wish I would’ve been more aware before I was forced to become aware. Now that I have a son that has Down syndrome (coming soon!) I want to help spread awareness and acceptance.
Each fall cities around the country hold ‘Buddy Walks’. It’s a walk celebrating the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. There’s guest speakers, music, and fun. We thought about going to the one in Seattle this year but we just aren’t ready to face our future yet. That doesn’t mean to come across as harsh. We just want to hold our baby and get to know him and love him before getting to know Down syndrome and all that it means. I hope that makes sense. We are excited to celebrate Eli and other individuals with Down syndrome but right now we don’t even know our son. I want to know him before I know Down syndrome. That’s not to mean I don’t want to create awareness during the month of October and every month for that matter. A friend on my Facebook page thanked me for “being such an advocate”. Her words made me smile. My precious baby boy isn’t even born yet and people see me as an advocate. That scares me a little since I still know so little about Down syndrome. But I do know that I want my son to be loved, accepted and respected throughout his life. By his family, friends, peers, and strangers. I pledge to do whatever it takes to raise him in an environment where he feels no different than his big brother. I promise to love him just as much and to celebrate his successes with just as much passion and praise that I have done for Cody. I will always stand up for my sons and I will always be proud of both of them. If that makes me an advocate than that’s what I am. I’m an advocate for acceptance, awareness, and love of all people. As many have said to me when talking about their child with Down syndrome, “they are more alike than different”. I heard it said best this morning in a new friend’s blog I follow at Kelsi’s Corner, “Down syndrome does not define an individual any more than my brown eyes define me. It is a part of who that person is- first and foremost a human being.”