My son has autism and by definition that makes me a special needs parent. Although we’re a relatively small community, it’s unfortunate that we’re also a somewhat rapidly growing community. So many parents, so many children – as well as so many adults – whose lives are defined by a different sense of normalcy.
It’s important to note too, however, that despite how we might feel sometimes, we’re not a forgotten group. There are programs, advocacy groups, non-profit organizations and a slew a wonderful volunteers who just want to help, to be there and do what they can to make our lives a little less demanding.
One such group – again, among many – is the Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary.
Yesterday marked the 30th year that they have put on “A Special Day for Special Kids” at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. In their own words:
Trust me, it was much more than that. For the expected 3,000 in attendance, it was sun-filled day of fun, food, activities and perhaps just as important: a lack of judgement from others. It seems like all too often – sometimes real and I’m sure perceived – families of special needs are subject to the leers and comments from those who simply don’t understand.
But not this day. From the moment we walked into the park and greeted by the Arizona State University cheerleaders and free hats from the Phoenix Suns, it was clear that this day was all about us. And not really us (as in my wife and I) but for our son and for the children of so many others.
Here’s what the day included:
And all for free. 100% paid for through donations and other fund-raising efforts. I overheard one man say that proceeds from a recent golf tournament brought in $16,000 to the cause.
Again, it was an incredible event, put on by an incredible organization with contributions by a lot of incredible people and volunteers. We can’t thank them enough and I know so many other special needs families feel the same way.