Helping Hands Foundation Winter Outing 2013: The Wrap-Up

January 31, 2013 — 2 Comments

Sunday morning came too quickly.

And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

(Read about Friday and Saturday, too)

Tony and I had breakfast, said our good-byes and were out the door by 9am. On the way to the airport, we drove past Fenway, which was cool, but I’ll need to get back for a game sometime. The flight home was uneventful, although, I fell asleep so hard that I slept through the entire descent and only woke-up on impact when we landed. I thought it was turbulence.

Bye, Boston!

Bye, Boston!

Then I drove home in a snow storm (stopped at Kopp’s for lunch), hugged and kissed the fam…and then passed out for the rest of the night.


Now, let me give some props to some peeps (I’m so relevant!) and then give you my overall takeaways from the weekend.

I’m sure I’ll leave some people out, but trust me, it’s not on purpose! I’m incredibly thankful for those that put so much work into the weekend, especially Patti, Dayna and Vennessa (and their hubbies!). Quite a trio right there!

Dayna, Tony, Vennessa, Patti, and Me

Dayna, Tony, Vennessa, Patti, and Me

Valerie did such a great job with the talent show and the musical part of the weekend. It seemed like every time I was near her she was smiling at someone! Kristy, though sick and hoarse, did a wonderful job leading the youth discussions. Annie, Philip, Dave, Stephen…so fun to be a part of your team. Oh, and Erin…get to work.

One of the highlights of my weekend was reconnecting with the Schneiders. About a year ago I had the pleasure of baptizing their little boy, Grant. He’s gotten so big! Mike, Crystal, Bay and Grant…love you guys!



Best picture ever? Me, Mike/Grant, Nick and Tony

Best picture ever? Me, Mike/Grant, Nick and Tony

I also got to meet the Formans, who I’ve known via the interwebs for a while, but it was fun to meet them in real life!

I was surprised how blurry the Formans were in real life.

I was surprised how blurry the Formans were in real life.

It was also fun to meet people that have interacted on the Facebook page! The Rovedos, Labrecques, Stauffers, Rosas…I know I’m leaving some out, but it was awesome to meet each and every one of you!

The Rovedos! Cam was SO into this.

The Rovedos! Cam was SO into this.

Finally meeting Meg (and her family) and Nick (and his mom, Stacey) was awesome, too. They’re both such engaging people with big hearts and even bigger smiles. And Stacey, I promise not to be so distracting next year.

Me and Meg

Me and Meg

Oh, and Tony. What a weekend. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: Tony is the nicest and most talented dude I know. I had a blast spending the weekend with you, friend.

So, what was the takeaway from this weekend?

Throughout the weekend people asked me, “Did you have anything like this when you were growing-up?” Nope. Not at all. In fact, there’s nothing like this where I’m from even now! Coming into the weekend, I was actually a little nervous. What would it be like to be around so many people with limb-differences? Would I be uncomfortable? Would I say something stupid? Would I feel like I didn’t belong? That sounds weird, but I hope you get what I’m saying. It’s a culture and group I’ve not ever been a part of, so I wondered if there was vocabulary I needed to learn and topics that were taboo and stuff like that.

As it turned out, I fit right in. I felt comfortable, valued, inspired and encouraged. At the airport in Milwaukee I said to Tony, “That whole room was filled with incredible people.” And I mean that. I was so impressed by the character and kindness of each person I met. I’ll never forget that.

People also asked how I thought my life would have been different if a group like this had existed when I was growing-up. That question makes me nervous. The truth is, there’s really no way to know. That said, I think my life would have been totally different. Not better or worse, because my upbringing was awesome and made me who I am today, but certainly different. Ultimately, I feel that the HHF outings are invaluable to those affected by upper limb-loss. Once or twice a year, kids get to hangout together and “talk shop,” while their parents do the same.

And to me, watching the “old pros” share their experiences with the “newbies” showcased the good this group can do. Whether it was Annie showing someone how she ties her shoes or Dayna (and many others) comforting a new mom and dad, the connection is what it’s all about. The genuine care and concern for one another was contagious the entire weekend.

I know this all sounds dramatic, but I can assure you I’m not exagerating. It really was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I learned so much, made so many friendships that I’m sure will be life-long, and had so much fun! It was an integral part of what continues to be the new beginnings of… living one-handed.

Thank you to EVERYONE that was involved!

Except for Asmani’s mom, who won the iPod I wanted in the raffle.

Don’t worry, she knows I’m kidding!



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I'm a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a friend...all kinds of things, actually.

2 responses to Helping Hands Foundation Winter Outing 2013: The Wrap-Up

  1. Ryan – Thanks for your terrific observations about our HHF weekend (were you taking notes on the side or something – lots of good stuff here 🙂 Our HHF families were so excited to meet you and were ‘BINGING’ all weekend! We really couldn’t have asked for better line-up. I especially love that you are a parent and ‘get us’ when we express ourselves from a two-handed parental point of view. We are thrilled you enjoyed yourself and look forward to meeting your fam at one of our future events!

  2. Hi Ryan,
    It was really great getting to meet you and hear you speak at the HHF outing. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your take aways. We left our first Winter outing 8 years ago,when Hannah was only 5 months old, saying, “This was better that Disney World!” and we still think it is. (except for the rides). I hope you come to many more.

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