Last weekend was awesome!
Our trip to Ohio for the 3rd annual Helping Hands Midwest picnic started on Thursday as we made our way to Indianapolis for a fun overnight visit with our friends, the Thomas family (from MySpecialHand.com). My Sam became fast friends with little Sam’s older brother, Carson, staying awake until late into the night telling each other stories. My girls, Anna and (eventually) Claire, were in love with their dogs. Thanks for having us, Eric and Jenni!
Friday morning I had the honor of speaking at little Sam’s school. Four classes of kindergartners packed into a little space in the library. And they were awesome! The talk went really well and they did a great job listening. I also learned that the question-and-answer time at the end might best be reserved for groups of older kids. Though that was probably the funniest part of the whole presentation! “Yes, you had a question?” “My mom likes lasagna!” “Awesome!” I was also asked about a poster behind me and, “What do these footballs mean?” They were baseballs. So good. My wife and kids got to be there for the first time, too! That was awesome. I’m so grateful for the teachers at Delaware Trail Elementary and their willingness to let me tell their kids that “Different is Awesome!”
Eric took some fantastic pictures and a little video of my visit – click here to check them out.
After the school visit, my family went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum…for four hours. That place is amazing! Four levels of awesome attractions, including a carousel on the fourth floor! PLUS a whole separate wing for dinosaurs! It was insane. Highly suggested if you’re in the area.
Before we knew it, the main event had arrived! We went to the picnic on Saturday afternoon and it was amazing. Again. Thankfully, it wasn’t as hot as last year and the rain held-off for a beautiful day at the park. Nearly 250 people were there, all of them affected by limb-difference in some way or another. Kids, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters…one big family. It was so fun to see old friends again and even more exciting to meet new ones! Events like this one remind me what an honor it is to do this. Getting to meet people in real life who have been affected positively means the world to me. Many thanks to Kim Vogelgesang for her tireless efforts once again in organize a fantastic event!
Saturday evening we had the pleasure of seeing Tony Memmel and his lovely wife, Lesleigh, perform at the American Legion, too. They put on a great show as all the kids danced and sang and we adults smiled and beamed.
There was also an after-party…and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Eric took some fantastic pictures of the event – click here to check them out.
On Sunday, Sam and I went to the Reds/Cardinals game with HHM friends and then we spent one more night in the hotel as a family before drove all day Monday to get home just in-time for a “technically-I’m-still-on-vacation” Chinese dinner.
Whewf! Over a thousand miles on the van in those five days and it was totally worth it. Getting to hangout with friends like Molly and Dan, Eric and Jenni, Tony and Lesleigh, Katie and Todd, Patti and Scott, Jen and Randy, Candida, Elizabeth and so many, many more is something I look forward to every year now.
And meeting the parents at the event rekindles my passion every time. I also love having my family with me. Julie is such a huge support and the kids love being with all of the other kids. They talk about it for weeks before we go and I’m so happy they get this exposure to so many kids that don’t look the same. Sure, they have me, but I’m just dad. Playing with other kids has a much greater impact, I think.
So, another successful trip to Ohio is in the books.
And I’m already looking forward to next year!