World Down Syndrome Day was last Saturday, but the after effects are still being felt in our house. We've heard so many stories, seen so many pictures, witnessed so many videos.... I thought the Buddy Walk last year was amazing in the overwhelming support we saw. This topped that. Not because people supported Ruby (even though I realize she is at the center of it for our friends and family), but because people were bringing good awareness to Down syndrome in general.
We asked Team Ruby to celebrate the day of awareness (3.21) by wearing different colored, different patterned socks. The idea behind that is that you wear mismatched socks and someone calls you on it. Then you start a conversation about Down syndrome. However, when the kids and I did this last year and I 'quizzed' Eli on what he would say when people asked about his socks, he responded "I'm wearing different socks because what makes you different makes you beautiful." So we totally embrace that side of it as well.
For those Team Ruby members that have a Ruby is a Gem shirt, or a Buddy Walk shirt, we asked them to wear that as well...another conversation starter. And because 3.21 was on a Saturday this year, we asked ANOTHER favor: wear your stuff on Friday too because you're likely to see more people at school and work.
Team Ruby members started sending in pictures (I got over 20!!) of their shirts and/or mismatched socks before I even left boot camp Friday morning (speaking of which, Team Ruby shirts showed up at camp even though I never mentioned it to my campers). People from several different states took pictures of their socks, their shirts, their kids, themselves...it was awesome! And then we got emails throughout the weekend. Our friends shared the stories of how their conversations went with their kids about why Down syndrome needs awareness, stories of talks about what Down syndrome is (and isn't!), stories of amazing kid responses to WDSD. We got a few videos of friends' kids wearing their socks and telling the camera about it, we got a video of one friend (only 7 years old!) telling his class about Ruby, we got messages describing kids telling their classes about Down syndrome (some from kids/families who have never even met Ruby!).... It has been a very emotional week, to say the least :)
Finally, Eli did talk to his class in preparation for Friday (so cool!). That morning I took Ruby in to his class and we took a picture together. It was amazing to see all of those kids wearing red shirts and mismatched socks! When more experienced parents told me Ruby would change the world around her, I knew they were right, but I had no idea her reach would be so big.....