Saturday was amazing.
If Friday at the Helping Hands Foundation’s Winter Outing was mashed potatoes, then Saturday was the gravy. Tons and tons of gravy.
Because gravy is awesome.
The morning started early when our featured speaker, Meg Zucker, took the stage. I’d written for Meg’s blog last year, but this was the first time I got to meet her in person and she was wonderful! Her husband and kids came with her and got to beam at her with pride from the crowd. Her message was encouraging, funny, practical and resonant with everyone in the room! Meg has a way of disarming you, making you comfortable and drawing you in.
As Meg spoke, I stood to the side and looked over the crowd, overwhelmed. Over 300 incredible people, all affected in some way by limb-difference. Here, together, learning and loving. It filled my heart with joy.
After Meg finished, Tony shared a song and then Nick and I got to share a bit about ourselves, which was a blast.
In the afternoon Tony, Nick and I (and others) hung-out with many of the youth that were at the outing. It was a time to let them ask questions and share their experiences. Annie and I led a group together and it was fun to watch her interact with the kids. Annie is an old pro. She’s been a part of the HHF for 19 years and it shows. Her confidence and ability to communicate with the kids helped them to open up and learn from each other so much. I enjoyed learning from her and hope to lead a group with her again sometime!
The annual talent show took place later in the afternoon and it was fantastic! Musicians, dancers, poets, performers…one by one, they took the floor and shared their gifts. Truth be told, the whole weekend seemed like a talent show to me. The kids I got to spend time with were so smart and funny and gifted! And I really believe that this group gives these kids a boost of confidence they don’t find elsewhere. Just that one or two times a year they get to go and not have to worry about “feeling different” and just be themselves.
In the evening those of us who helped facilitate the kids’ discussions earlier in the afternoon got to share with the parents. We shared a bit about what the kids talked about and opened the floor for questions. It was a very powerful time for me, getting to share from the perspective of a limb-different kid and now parent.
Then we split-up into smaller groups and my new friend Kristy and I got to be in one and share some of our thoughts in a more intimate setting. This was one of my favorite times of the weekend. I loved listening to the parents share their experiences. The vulnerability with which some shared their struggles was so inspiring, too. Seeing the love they have for their kids was heart-warming and the heartbreak that often comes with uncertainty painful, but the hope that arose in that room trumped it all. As hope often does.
The day ended when many of the adults gathered in a room and enjoyed themselves. Inside jokes: 11 chairs, Crystal Chandelier, Air Bud, 50 McDoubles and Nerf guns. What a fun group of people!
So, that was Saturday.
What a day.
I’ll wrap-up the weekend tomorrow, sharing some broader takeaways from the weekend as a whole.
Hope you’ll join me!