Local Walk for Apraxia gives a voice to children who struggle to find theirs.
This year the Denver Apraxia Walk was held August 5th, at Clement Park in Littleton. Apraxia of speech is a severe speech disorder in children that makes the act of learning to speak very difficult. Many endure years of speech therapy struggling to find their voice. I have to say this year was the BEST WALK YET, but it wasn’t do to me. Denver has the most incredible, talented, and driven parents I have ever met.
When I started as walk coordinator, I had no idea what I was doing. As the years have gone on though, more volunteers have stepped out to help and I realized every person has a unique and different perspective to bring and if each person is heard, the walk thrives. For example, to me, a successful event always and I mean ALWAYS, has to have a face painter. If my face was and had been painted, the day was nothing short of AWESOME. Face painter Stephanie Harris from Color Me Fancy was touched.
That’s not true though for other people. Katie Oberlander, a Denver mom told me she always cared less about a face painter, but had they had a Disney Princess there, now THAT was an event. Local company Wands and Wishes provided princesses and even Captain America!
Another volunteer loves clowns and balloons! To them, a successful and memorable event includes clowns. I personally dislike clowns. There are two groups of clown people. Those that love them, and those that are terrified of them. I fall in the latter. I have always hated clowns. I don’t like I can’t see their face, I don’t like that they make me feel awkward, yeah…clowns. However, as coordinator, I need to realize other people DO like clowns and they make an event special for some. This year, mom Gina Berrecil said the amazing clowns from a local foundation helped her kids overcome their fear of clowns.
Having a group of volunteers is really the more the merrier. We can cover a lot more ground and a lot more interests when we have a diverse group of people representing all perspectives. If someone has an idea, I honestly never try to shoot it down because who am I? I’m not them, and if they think something is cool and important, there is sure to be others who feel the same. A silent auction was new this year and was incredibly successful! A local Denver mom Amanda stepped up to coordinate it and raised over 3K!
One thing everyone can get behind though is celebrating the kids. I made a point to tell every kid with apraxia that I saw that it was their special day. I wanted them all to feel special. I want them to feel like this day was created for them, and it doesn’t matter how they celebrate it. Many kids are not only surrounded by family, but their speech/language pathologists come too to celebrate them for their hard work like Mary Lou Johnson. “It means so much to have Mason’s SLP here supporting him,” said mom Amanda Chambers.
The walk is about raising money for CASANA, the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association; however; my biggest goal is about the kids. That is what I want these kids
to feel. I don’t want them to feel it’s a day about conformity and trying to be normal. I want them to just be themselves, whatever that looks like; and then I want them to be applauded for having the courage to do that.
Normal is boring. Besides. What is normal? People think I’m “normal” and I hate clowns, can’t stand people in masks, and have a bee phobia.
The walk for apraxia is not just about embracing differences, it’s celebrating them! Local mom Tracie Horsch said,
“The walk means a lot to our family in that it celebrates all of these children and their accomplishments as they find their voice. Coming together with “our people” helps us to know we are not alone on this journey.”
We may not have gotten news coverage or a news article, so I’ll write it myself. I personally find events like this very news worthy and something I would like to see on local news. Would love your comments if you agree.
A big thank you to the numerous local Denver sponsors who stepped up this year to give a voice for those struggling to find theirs. Our goal this year was to raise 30K, and as of today we are 5k short. If you want to donate to these children and help them find their voice, follow this link: Denver Walk for Apraxia