We all walked around the building where an outdoor cocktail and appetizer hour took place in the warm sunshine.
"Oooohhhh Mom, that could be dangerous!"
"Oooohhhh Mom, that could be dangerous!"
"For most of us, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, it makes things possible." ~Judy Heumann
Adaptive is a common word in the Weatherford household. Whenever we have an outing, activity or event, we need to determine if we can adapt or if it's best to forgo. And there are specific things that are set up to be adaptive in the first place. Mary Free Bed (MFB) offers multiple "Adaptive Sports Clinics" aimed at inclusion for all kids and adults focusing on different areas. We had signed up for the MFB Adaptive Kayaking Clinic, having tried it out the previous year. Ms. Amanda and Jane headed out with Cam after an early lunch on Wednesday.
The kayaking is popular and there were quite a few people we knew. Recently, Millennium Park had an adaptive canoe/kayak launch installed on the end of their dock. It provides a stabilizer for the boat while others are loaded in. Cam made certain we read through the instructions so we knew what to expect. It took a bit of adjusting, but we were able to load our kayaker in and he was off. While Jane and Amanda enjoyed sitting on the end of the dock with their feet in the water, Cam was cruising around Millennium Park on a very warm day.
Luckily, there was a nice breeze that made light ripples on the water. It turns out that getting in is easier than getting out. Now that Cam is taller, it's definitely more of a challenge for maneuvering. Fortunately for us, a local water patrol sheriff had just docked his boat and came over asking if we needed assistance. We gladly accepted his offer. Deputy Tilson then proceeded to help the other families. We were able to find an online form to thank him for his act of kindness. His lieutenant reached out to Jane in email indicating it would be a part of his personnel record. Deputy Tilson himself sent an email as well, thanking us. After all of that kayaking work, tropical smoothies were picked up on the drive home.
Friday early evening marked Brody's birthday celebration. He invited 5 friends, including Cam, to Celebration Cinema movie theater to see the new movie, "Lightyear" which is the prequel to the Buzz Lightyear character appearing in the Toy Story movies. Jane and her son enjoyed the movie and the Buffalo Wild Wings dinner afterwards! Cam's exact review of the flick: "It was a little intense, but overall I really liked it."
On Sunday, we celebrated Chris for Father's Day. Cam decided, all on his own, that he wanted to give his dad tickets to a Whitecaps Baseball Game for our whole family! Cam's dad was pretty surprised and impressed to see the tickets for late July all printed and ready to go. After a quick lunch, we headed to the cottage to enjoy some time on the beach. Although the lake isn't quite warm enough to swim yet, the sand felt good on our feet. It was the first ride of the year for the Cam-mobile. Even though Cam continues to grow, the last one he and his dad made still functions for this summer. We were all entertained by cousin Calla, intent on gathering items from the beach. Our thanks to Oma and Opa for providing most of our dinner to celebrate all of the dads: Chris, Opa and Max. The feast of grilled steak, smoked sausage, asparagus, salad, bread and fresh fruit hit the spot. Coco made her delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Now that Cam can drive his powerchair right into the Haroldson cottage, it makes for a longer, more relaxing stay for him. And although we didn't go swimming on Sunday, we know those days aren't too far away...
"We always need to check, Mom! Especially because the last hotel didn't have it right either!"
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." ~Semisonic, Closing Time
We are always told that time seems to accelerate the older you are. As parents, we are acutely aware of this with each passing year.
Tuesday evening was deemed "Class Night" for the Forest Hills Northern Middle School 8th grade class. Some referred to it as 8th grade graduation while others saw it as the official transition to high school. 8th Grade Class Night Video: The event was livestreamed online and lasted a little more than 1 hour. Each eighth grader had to turn in 6 words to show when they went across the stage to accept their certificate. Displayed on the large screen was the teen's school picture along with their quote. Cam's was very fitting: "It was awesome! It was fun!"
Wednesday marked the official last day of school with dismissal before 11am. When Cam was off the bus, he and Jane were on their way to meet Chris. Their destination was Clock Mobility where a brand new handicap accessible van (value of $75,000) was being presented to a family. The gift was provided by Lori's Voice, the non-profit organization where Cam's dad is a board member. The family from Brighton with five kids was very appreciative. Lori's Voice provided a catered lunch and Chris picked up a Costco sheet cake. Every local news outlet was in attendance since this giveaway will happen multiple times. Any time Lori, the founder of Lori's Voice, sees Cam, she always insists on a picture of the two of them.
Thursday was Jane's birthday and typical of Cam and his dad, she felt very loved. In the morning, the guys gave her a big certificate for a family movie night and in the evening, Chris brought home one of her favorite takeout dinners and told her that her car would be detailed the next day. Cam picked out the most fragrant candle for her in a beautiful wooden bowl.
Helping non-profit organizations is a typical family activity for us. The All Ford and Mustang Car Show of West Michigan is sponsored in part by Lori's Voice. Chris signed up to volunteer at the event and after he was settled, Cam and his mom drove over. Jane and Cam were able to watch Chris speak over the microphone about Lori's Voice and the importance of the non-profit, providing necessary equipment to kids with disabilities. Cam stayed with his dad, talking and meeting people. Jane had some shopping time and came back to pick up her son.
Sunday late morning, we drove to the Haroldson cottage to have lunch with Coco, Max, Calla and Oma and Opa. Surprises awaited us. We were able to hold baby bunnies and they were incredibly soft and cuddly. Oma and Opa brought an ice cream cake from Country Dairy, a birthday present for Jane and an 8th grade graduation card for Cam. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was thanks to Max...
When we arrived at the Haroldson cottage, we noticed an addition leading up to the door. Where there were previously steps, there were now two new ramps, built by Max. Cousin Calla took advantage of the new ramping by choosing to crawl up and down. This also meant that for the first time ever, Cam was able to drive with his regular powerchair into their cottage!Camology Quotes:
"No Mom, that will not work because your work will block that software."
(of course, he is absolutely 100% correct in his assessment!)
"Every child deserves a chance to play baseball." ~WMML Motto
There are organizations that exist purely to promote joy. West Michigan Miracle League is one of those non-profits that was founded to provide an opportunity for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities to play baseball and experience being a part of a team.
When Cam started playing baseball nearly 10 years ago, he was nervous and uncertain. With a fall and spring season every year, we watched his confidence grow and apprehension slip away. Every day in his room, he sees his WMML medals and is reminded of the joy and excitement that every game brings.
We welcomed Oma and Opa late Friday afternoon, making the trip into Grand Rapids for the next day's event. Saturday marked the final game of the 2022 spring season for the West Michigan Miracle League. The volunteers for the game were all part of our local minor league baseball team, the Whitecaps.
The 10am start time brought out a host of Cam Fans: Ms. Kathy (Cam's grade school teacher) and husband, Kevin, Patti (our dear friend and neighbor), Coleen (Alternatives in Motion Exec. Director), Katherine (Cam's former nanny) and husband Paul with their kids, Bexley and Sophia. Of course, Oma and Opa were in the cheering section as well.
The other big names in attendance were Lori and Dave Hastings, the founders of Lori's Voice. It was a bit cooler at the field and the Hastings always offer up handmade quilts provided by their volunteers.
After a celebration lunch from Culver's, we settled in for a relaxing afternoon. Cam's best bud, Brody, joined us for a couple of hours to watch a movie. Having Oma and Opa with us for a second night meant another fun family dinner and more time to hang out together.
Jane and her son were working on completing projects Sunday afternoon. Chris had left on a short business trip for the first time in more than two years. Cam and his mom talked about how he could do some creative yearbook signing. Jane printed the sticker labels, but her son decided what they would say:
"Cam Weatherford 2022. This has been a great school year! Thanks for being my friend. Be kind. See you in high school! Class of '26"