By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director
On Sunday, we made a stop at the local fast-food taco drive-thru to pick up a Paw-Bender. It’s a cup of frozen yogurt with a couple of dog bones covered in a creamy layer of peanut butter. It was a birthday treat for the oldest member of our family, our 63-year-old (ok, she’s only 9) black Labrador Retriever Slingshot. Slingshot is a great duck dog (I hope so after $6K in training) but more than that I love that she still acts like a puppy even at her “advanced” age. I tell you all of this because as I sat watching her eat her treat on Sunday, I was amazed at how youthful her “outlook” was. And it made me think about all the groups who are 20+ years old who are doing great NEW programs and initiatives.
So, I think it’s high time that we have a little celebration for all those groups out there that have been providing great support and programs to parents and professionals for twenty or thirty years. Thank you for your hard work and for taking it past one parent’s passion for their child and making it into something so much bigger.
And for the groups who have been steadily making strides in their community (and beyond) for ten or so years…thank you. These are the organizations stepping up to shoulder that load of responsibility that our older (or should I say more experienced) groups have been carrying for us for so long. It’s so nice to see their efforts as they share them with all of us.
No, I didn’t forget the pups….the groups that have been here only for a few years or are just getting their feet underneath them. Those are the most exciting because they bring such vitality and a thirst for learning to the table. I have to say that the phone calls from these groups make my job an incredible experience. Why? I’ve been there. The questions they ask are the ones I asked just a few short years ago.
So, as I sat and watched Slingshot jump around waiting for her Pawbender, I thought to myself that I only hope that I have that much energy at 63. But I know that she tires easily. Her energy is short and sporadic. However, when she is on a duck hunt with her best friend (my hubby) she is at her best. Her passion wins out and she gives it her all. That is why Down syndrome organizations grow and look for ways to better serve their members….because the passion wins out every time. So, embrace your passion! Be proud of your accomplishments! Never act your age…always look for that youthful vigor and utilize your passion for your mission. And like Slingshot, you will become a trusted and loved (and invaluable) part of your family (or community) who is still out there on chilly mornings with a passion for bringing in the ducks.