Contributing author to Gifts : Chapter 8

GIFTS - how to order

Gifts : Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives

The Gifts Outreach program provides complimentary copies of Gifts to organizations which serve parents facing a new diagnosis of Down syndrome for their child, either prenatally or postnatally. We believe that the stories in the book provide a vital companionship and support for such parents.

2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA): Gold Award

2008 Mom's Choice Awards: Silver Recipient, Special & Exceptional Needs

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Monday, June 16, 2008

Remembering Annette and the 2007 Indiana Buddy Walk

Today is the 6 month Anniversary of our friend Annette's death. In honor of Annette, I submitted an article for our DSI Buddy Walk Newsletter, as the request was to provide an article about what the Buddy Walk meant to our families. While I could have written about how I brought Nash to our first Buddy Walk in 2001 when he was 6 months old, and I was just overpowered with anxiety, fear and joy and all of the aforementioned emotions, I chose to write about one magical Buddy Walk; last year in October of 2007. My draft:

Buddy Walk 2007 and Memories of Annette

Our family consists of three, plus a few hundred or so, since the birth of our son Nash in February 2001 thanks to the members of the IDSF, now DSI family, and those we have met via internet support boards.

When Nash was born, and his diagnosis of Trisomy 21 official, we bought books, cried a bunch, loved on our son, and went on-line. My support was my loving husband Jeff, our families, a box of tissues and a group of gals originally on a Down syndrome board, which later evolved into the discussion group. On this board, I was able to somewhat covertly discuss my fears, dreams and issue-of-the-day, share my love of internet research and my findings to all those that will listen, make some friendships that still, to this day, feel stronger than genetic family ties. The strength of the bond among those of us with children with Down syndrome is inexplicable to those not officially members of our exclusive club; those with a family member with Down syndrome. The strength of this bond was evident at the 2007 Buddy Walk.

Annette Lammer and her husband Tom became friends with Jeff and me via the internet in early 2001 when Annette and I met on-line. Their son Ryan also has Down syndrome and is Nash’s age, born within a week of each other. Our friendship grew as we shared triumphs and disappointments, and finally met each other in person. These meetings are known as “IRL’s” in the online communities, or “In Real Life” meetings. The IRL’s were held in various locals, and the last one with Annette was at our home in Indiana for the 2007 Buddy Walk. We had over 80 people attend the IRL at our house in Noblesville after the Buddy Walk from all over the country, including Annette and family from Canada. But I knew this was much more than an IRL. It was a gathering of friends for Annette who all share that special bond of having a child with Down syndrome, as we didn’t know how long we would be blessed with her friendship and presence here on earth.

Annette was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in February 2006, five years from when her son Ryan was born. She passed away on December 16, 2007, just two months after that wonderful gathering at the Buddy Walk.

So you see, the Buddy Walk is a special event for many of us; a place to gather family, friends and those special in our lives. It’s for educators, therapists, friends and family to show their support for Down syndrome Awareness. It’s an event to celebrate, and for us that knew Annette, to remember. And we will be doing just that for the 2008 Buddy Walk in Indianapolis. Celebrating and remembering. We hope you all join us!

Annette at the 2007 Buddy Walk- God Speed Annette, we miss you.

Annette and family on the right at the end

Please leave a link to your Buddy Walk or IRL experience in your response for us to enjoy, expecially if it pertains to our much loved, much missed Annette.


AZ Chapman said...

what a nice tribute to your friend

luvmypeanut said...

I am so glad I got to a part of the IRL and got the opportunity to meet all of you in person and most of all, Annette!

She is dearly missed by us all. Thank you for writing a beautiful article to honor her!

Luv ya!

Angie said...

a great article recognizing the unexpected gifts you receive when you have a child w/Down syndrome.

Christina said...

That's a really great story about your friend. I remember Nicole blogging about her during her battle and passing. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.

Tara Marie said...

I'm sitting here crying tears of sadness and tears of joy, as knowing Annette was a blessing. Thank you for hosting this gathering, as it was truly a very special weekend.

Pam said...

That was a beautiful post. I think we are all better people for knowing Annette.

You are an amnazing friend, and have such a huge heart.

I think of you often.


Miss Magic said...

This is my second time reading your article, and I'm just as moved this time. Thank you Jan, for being a friend to all of us, and for keeping Annette's memory alive so brilliantly!

mum2brady said...

Beautiful tribute Jan - Love it!!!

Alyssa said...

:( Sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

Laura said...

That was beautiful Jan. I'm sorry I missed that weekend, but as it turned out, it was also the last vacation I spent with my Dad.

Love you Sister.

PS-are you ignoring my email on purpose? lol

Mauzy said...

thank you all for your memories and friendship. I know those of you that were friends with Annette too feel the same, and miss her too.

Laura, I am getting the wine box ready for July!

AZ Chapman said...

where have y been I hope everything is okay its not like y to be gone for a week

Hugs In case y need them


Lisa said...

Haven't had a chance to tell you how wonderful of a job I think you did with this, it really is perfect Jan and I so enjoyed reading it and remembering. So grateful for the IRLs you coordinated and the opportunities I had to meet Annette in person. They are memories I will treasure forever. HUGS, HUGS, HUGS!