Our family consists of three, plus a few hundred or so, since the birth of our son Nash in February 2001 thanks to the members of the IDSF, now DSI family, and those we have met via internet support boards.When Nash was born, and his diagnosis of Trisomy 21 official, we bought books, cried a bunch, loved on our son, and went on-line. My support was my loving husband Jeff, our families, a box of tissues and a group of gals originally on a parentsplace.com Down syndrome board, which later evolved into the tri21online.com discussion group. On this board, I was able to somewhat covertly discuss my fears, dreams and issue-of-the-day, share my love of internet research and my findings to all those that will listen, make some friendships that still, to this day, feel stronger than genetic family ties. The strength of the bond among those of us with children with Down syndrome is inexplicable to those not officially members of our exclusive club; those with a family member with Down syndrome. The strength of this bond was evident at the 2007 Buddy Walk.
Annette and her husband Tom became friends with Jeff and me via the internet in early 2001 when Annette and I met on-line. Their son Ryan also has Down syndrome and is Nash’s age, born within a week of each other. Our friendship grew as we shared triumphs and disappointments, and finally met each other in person. These meetings are known as “IRL’s” in the online communities, or “In Real Life” meetings. The IRL’s were held in various locals, and the last one with Annette was at our home in Indiana for the 2007 Buddy Walk. We had over 80 people attend the IRL at our house in Noblesville after the Buddy Walk from all over the country, including Annette and family from Canada. But I knew this was much more than an IRL. It was a gathering of friends for Annette who all share that special bond of having a child with Down syndrome, as we didn’t know how long we would be blessed with her friendship and presence here on earth.Annette was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in February 2006, five years from when her son Ryan was born. She passed away on December 16, 2007, just two months after that wonderful gathering at the Buddy Walk.So you see, the Buddy Walk is a special event for many of us; a place to gather family, friends and those special in our lives. It’s for educators, therapists, friends and family to show their support for Down syndrome Awareness. It’s an event to celebrate, and for us that knew Annette, to remember. And we will be doing just that for the 2008 Buddy Walk Indianapolis. Celebrating and remembering. We hope you all join us!