Thursday, October 23, 2014

Buddy Walk

When we first got Ruby's diagnosis, a friend told us about the Buddy Walk. At that time we were still trying to process everything, and given how careful we chose to be about exposing Ruby to the general public in her first six months, we opted to skip it. But since early summer, we've been planning for Ruby's first walk this fall.
A friend designed a logo for us with Lehr's "Ruby is a Gem" motto, and we made it possible for friends and family to buy shirts. Then we established our online team so that anyone who wanted to join us could sign up for the Atlanta walk. All proceeds were to help fund several local resources, including two Ruby uses often: the Emory Clinic and Gigi's Playhouse.

Leading up to the walk, I was amazed at how many orders for Ruby shirts came in. I had voiced our desire for people to buy a shirt to wear around town in an effort to strike up conversations about Ruby and Down syndrome in general, but the amount of people who did just that blew me away. Even weeks after the walk, I still see her red shirt pop up on Facebook or at church. And I asked friends to post pictures of themselves wearing the shirts; everyday we got a few new photos from all over the United States! As of the week of the walk, 112 Ruby shirts are out there, spreading awareness....crazy!!
Since I set the team page up online I was able to see how many walkers signed up. This was another awesome surprise. Our team kept getting bigger and bigger; over 80 people signed up to walk! AND the amount of money donated in Ruby's name grew so much that it never left the leader's board. Team Ruby started at second place and eventually moved down to fourth (for most donations in Atlanta). We ended up raising over $4K which was more than 200% of our goal!

When the day of the walk finally came, we were pleasantly surprised (SHOCKED!) that all but two people who signed up were able to come to the walk, and several others showed up and registered on that day, bringing our total number of walkers to 96! Ruby grabbed a looong nap on the way to the walk (smart girl), so she was able to stay awake for the whole afternoon. We set up a small tent near the back of the park and greeted the many many Team Ruby members that came. Everyone had a blast eating and playing games, throwing the football and catching up... It was a perfect day. The walk itself started just before 4PM. We all lined up outside of the park and walked the perimeter.
I cannot quite express how blessed and loved Lehr and I realized our family was on that day. The amount of support for Ruby is something I can't wrap my brain around; it reaches so far and is so all-encompassing. Donations pouring in, people wearing my daughter's name across their chest, almost 100 people choosing to spend their Sunday with us, our pastor mentioning the walk in his sermon, countless friends surrounding Ruby on that day, just trying to get a hug, a hold, or even a smile.....these are just a few of the many ways our family has been so blessed.

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