Unbelievably, our walk weekend is here. Despite all of the time we spend planning for it, I’m always a bit surprised how it seems to sneak up on us at the end!
Seven years ago, my daughter was still fighting uncontrolled arthritis. I had just
moved past the denial stage, and was trying to work on moving towards
acceptance of the diagnosis, and what arthritis would mean. Searching the AF
web site, I stumbled upon information for the Arthritis Walk. Our closest walk
was going to be at a local beach on a Saturday. Looked like fun – seemed like a
great idea. So, I signed up. Five year old Caitlin came up with name for our
team – The Princess Parade. We decided to get some team shirts, so she drew a
picture and wrote the team name…. and we had some purple shirts printed (we
didn’t think guys would wear pink, but I have seen otherwise many times over
the years!). As a last touch, we got some tiaras to wear… and then asked our
closest friends and family to come down to join us. That first year, 34 people
came to walk with us.
Every year since then, I am incredibly moved by how many people come out to walk with
us. For us, it is a very real and tangible show of support for what my daughter
and our family deal with because of this disease. During the year, I choose not
to update people with every detail, every new medication, every symptom and
side effect… when they ask, I generally try to keep the answer short. It’s not
that I think they don’t care – because I know they do. It’s just that I find it
exhausting and sad, so what will that sound like to somebody who’s not in the
middle of living it?
But I know they care. And they definitely prove it every year when they put on a purple
shirt, a tiara, and come out to parade with us. That love and dedication to my
daughter fills my heart past full…. And that’s a feeling that will last us a
long, long time. Probably even until our next ParadeJ
One of my favorite things to do is to “cruise” the other walk sites around the
country. As my family is getting ready this Sunday, I like to think of all the
other families around the country who will be doing the same thing. I like to
have their stories in my heart as inspiration. I can see their shirts, and hear
their cheers, and share their hope. Here are a couple of my favorites:
I could go on and on! I honestly only know one of these kids personally. I just
love to see the pictures and read the stories and see all of the successes and
hard work (Plus they have great team names!). It really is very inspirational…
and it truly does start to feel like we can make a difference!
Best hopes to all and I wish you fun and happiness in your own parades!