Sunday, October 30, 2022

Being Cam's Parents - Week of Oct. 24th

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everyone has an identity... "Didn't you live in the house on the corner?" "Are you Stacy's sister?" We are all known as "someone" and oftentimes it is due to someone else. From the time Cam began his schooling and engaging in community work, Chris and Jane became known as "Cam's Mom" and "Cam's Dad" versus people knowing their first names. When we go to the store or out to dinner we'd inevitably hear "Hi Cam!" followed by "Oh you must be Cam's Mom and Dad!" 

We had given the non-profit organization Renew Mobility our (formerly Alternatives in Motion) permission to use Cam’s pictures. On Wednesday evening, we were slated to attend the 3rd Fundraiser for Renew Mobility at the Fowling Warehouse. Fowling is a hybrid game that combines the equipment of American football and bowling into one sport with a similar layout as horseshoes and cornhole. Renew Mobility provides mobility equipment to anyone who needs it and the fundraiser was appropriately named “Fowling to Keep 'Em Rolling” in honor of raising money for equipment repairs, etc.  When we arrived, every reserved table was adorned with candy and brochures that depicted a familiar kid on the front!

Cam's best bud, Brody and his mom, Jenn joined us.  Brody agreed to be a costume judge as did our favorite local news anchor, Tessa.  Jane and Tessa are both on the board of directors for Renew Mobility.  There were raffle tickets sold and Chris and Jenn both won some prizes.  Cam chose to dress up a "be-rista" from Brody's be Café this year.  Brody wanted to present Cam with the top costume prize, but we all agreed it was a conflict of interest. Everyone had a great time and we even played a bit of fowling.  Brody borrowed Jane's phone and had fun snapping some selfies!

On Friday, we were scheduled to volunteer with Brody and his dad at the Pumpkin Prowl.  This event was organized by the Ada Business Association and DiscoverAda.  More than 50 businesses opened their doors or created a parking space setup for their biz to pass out candy.  The social district was also available for adults to grab a cocktail-to-go at one of the many restaurants.  The local police and fire departments were on hand and there were more than 1000 kids expected.  We brought over a cornhole game which was extremely popular with the kids and kept us all busy.  

Ms. Ann, along with her daughter, Katherine and her family all stopped by to see us!  Katherine was Cam's nanny for more than 3 years when he was younger.  It was so much fun to see her kids and check out their dinosaur costumes.  We also saw one of the former PT students who Cam used to work with- Ms. Kelcie and her little ones were excited to meet him.  The teacher who taught summer school ran right over to our son when she spotted him.  The sunshine felt warm until the sun went down.  We ran out of candy at 7p and promptly packed up our area.  We all may have been a bit thankful since the chilly evening had us feeling a bit frosty.

Saturday was slated to be another sunny day.  We loaded up the van and drove to Oma's for a quick stop to drop off items and fix their printer.  Then we were on the road again to see our cousins.  Lake Michigan didn't disappoint with the glimmering sunlight dancing on the water.  Cam brought his old Elmo treat bucket to Calla so she would be ready for Halloween.  Dinner was delicious and relaxing due to Coco and Jane dividing up the meal prep.  Since the sunsets are much earlier now, we were able to see the beautiful hues along the horizon disappear before we headed back to Grand Rapids.

Pumpkin carving was in full force this week to decorate the office where Chris works and the non-profit Café we love the most.

Even though Chris and Jane are widely known as "Cam's Mom" and "Cam's Dad" respectively, it is a moniker for which they are very proud and most thankful for.

Camology Quotes:

Chris had to work later one evening this week and called Cam to say goodnight.  Before signing off, Cam's dad told his son, "Good night, young sir" to which his funny teenager responded:


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Cause and Effect - Week of Oct. 17th

"Take away the cause and the effect ceases." ~Miguel de Cervantes

On a daily basis, we take so many things for granted.  
Walking up steps, moving around a barrier, squeezing through a tight place... and the list goes on. In the 1970s electric operators for sliding and swinging doors were introduced, as well as motion detectors to activate sliding doors. The low energy swing door concept and the first handicapped access door operator were also introduced in the 1970s.  

Due to Cam's insistence and avocation, the handicap buttons for the doors at the high school were fixed this week and he was so happy and relieved.

We made it to the weekend and had quite a bit planned for Saturday.  After packing a lunch, we traveled to Oma and Opa's in Grand Haven.  It was breezy, but the sun was shining so we opted for an outdoor dining spot in their courtyard.  It is so serene and peaceful.  We had a great visit for a few hours and then continued northward.

Our stop at the Haroldson cottage was also met with abundant sunshine.  We sat outside admiring the beach and Lake Michigan for the remainder of the day.  The appetizers were plentiful and the conversations continued until it was dinner time.  We had pre-planned a dining experience in town at a place we hadn't tried before called Oh Brothers.  We all met there and found it to be quite busy.  After a thirty minute wait, we were seated and enjoyed a great din with cousins Coco, Max, Calla and Eric.  It was after 9:30p when we arrived back home in Grand Rapids but the later drive was definitely worth it!

Sunday afternoon was reserved for a visit to the pumpkin patch at Deep Roots Produce not far from our house.  We were so happy that Brody's family could meet us there too.  Not only did the area include a sprawling patch of pumpkins, but there were also goats and alpacas to pet and feed, produce for sale and a mini donut food truck.  We explored the entire patch and each family picked out multiple pumpkins.  Jane bought some produce and the kids shared mini donuts.  Once again, we were blessed with the sunshine and mild temperatures.  Stay tuned for some expert carving!

Camology Quotes:

Cam likes to watch the news and is especially interested in the traffic and construction.  Every time we drive to see Oma and Opa, he will explain, in great detail, what upcoming orange signs we will be seeing and alternate routes we could take.  Jane told him he sounded like a "back-seat driver." To which he responded:

"What is that?  Does it mean I am in driver's training?"

Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Advocator - Week of Oct. 10th

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” ~Stephen Hawking 
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” ~Christopher Reeve

An advocate is defined as a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause.  To advocate for someone is to "support or argue for."  Since Cam was in grade school, his teachers have always urged him to speak up when he feels something needs to change or things should be handled differently.  It's taken some time, but our 9th grader doesn't hold back anymore when he realizes if he's not vocal for himself, no one else may be.

This week, Jane attended parent/teacher conferences at the high school.  Cameron supplied a verbal list of things his mom needed to bring up.  One: "The handicap doorway I drive through in the morning after getting off the bus doesn't stay open long enough for me to drive through."  Two: "I would like things to work on every day after school with my tutor, Ms. Ann."  Cam did bring these up to his teacher which was confirmed during the time Jane had with her.  Cam's primary teacher told his mom she was impressed with his comprehension and daily schedule adherence.  She pointed out some things we can work on at home and talked about Cam's thankful manners and how much they are appreciated.  Jane's mom deemed it a successful meeting and gave her son a full report upon arrival home.

Saturday afternoon we had set aside time to meet up with Oma and Opa in Grand Haven.  After attending to a few things, we ventured out for an early dinner.  We tried JW's near downtown due to the favorable online reviews.  The entryway was a bit problematic for Cam and not very accessible, but the food was tasty.  

After our leisurely meal, we headed back to Rosy Mound.  Upon arrival, we all met up in the community room where another resident, Betty, was looking for others to play Rummikub with.  None of us had even heard of the game so it took a bit of time before we all finally acclimated to the rules and strategy.  We had such a fun time learning something new and rooting each other on.  Betty ended up winning and we all agreed we would need a repeat match another time.  

Prior to heading out, we took the elevator to the second floor.  Cam's grandma wanted her grandson to see the bird aviary located there.  It is a beautiful cabinet containing a dozen or so colorful small birds. Their chirps are quiet and they each have a tiny house within the cabinet along with greenery and other foliage.  The birds seem very content with their glass-walled home.

As we made our way to the exit, we thanked Oma and Opa for hosting us.  Every time we are there, it's a different experience and upon leaving, Cam always asks when our next visit will be.

Sunday was our day to relax and work on home projects.  One request from Cam's teacher was to send in a tray for Cam's powerchair to school.  Jane explained at the conferences that we had one but since the adjustments to Cam's chair, it no longer fit.  Of course, that didn't stop Chris and his son from completing some modifications to the existing one by removing the hardware and repositioning it.  Then, as a final task, they sanded the tray to remove the harsh surface where the bolts were in place previously.  

Once again, Cam and his dad completed the task in what Jane considered record time!

Camology Quotes:

Friday was a half day of school for Cam, so Jane took the afternoon off of work.  Mom and son finished lunch and then got on the road.  They stopped at Heidi's farmstand and then made their way to Brody's Be Café. Cam was able to watch and listen to Rachel interviewing a potential employee with special needs for one of the berista positions.  Cam talked about it on the drive home.
"She did a good job answering questions.  I don't think she liked that her grandma was trying to answer for her.  I hope she gets the job!"

Sunday, October 9, 2022

The Fun of a Fundraiser - Week of Oct. 3rd

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” ~Mary Angelou

Our week was building up to the first big fundraising event for Brody's Be Café on Thursday evening.  
It also made us wonder...who started fundraising in the first place? 
Quick Fundraising History Facts:
  • The Sung Dynasty ran soup kitchens in China in the 10th century. 
  • In 1552, Roxelana, wife of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, opened a charitable complex in Jerusalem for widows, orphans, and the poor. 
  • The Zulu tribe’s tradition of giving, in which givers and receivers are equals, was established in the 17th century. 
  • The word “philanthropy” came into the English language in 1600. 
  • In 1601, the Statute of Charitable Uses is passed in England, putting the responsibility to care for the poor on local parishes. The revolutionary thing about this practice is that the implementation of what we’d now call “programs” was done in the private sector, but overseen by the government. 
  • Benevolent societies and charitable endeavors like schools, refugee relief, orphanages, and hospitals popped up all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. 
  • The Salvation Army ran their first Christmas Kettle street campaign in 1891.
Modern fundraising started with the YMCA. Frank L. Pierce was tasked with raising money to build a YMCA in Washington D.C. In two years of campaigning, he raised $270,000, but still needed $80,000, and donations had stopped coming in. In 1905, Pierce partnered with Charles Sumner Ward. The two men created a campaign to raise the rest of the money, trying things that no one had ever done. 
  • Pierce and Ward engaged a publicist for their campaign and used corporate donations to pay for advertising 
  • They purposely kept their campaign short, capping it at 27 days 
  • They created a “campaign clock” to measure the time passing. It worked very well. Pierce and Ward raised the money, and by 1913, they were working internationally, running multi-million dollar campaigns using the techniques they’d developed.   

Brody's Be Café non-profit organization sold tickets online, provided drinks and food, and a professional auction!  Cam was in charge of oversight duties, audio/visual with Chris and greeting people.  Jane had printed posters, created bidder numbers and the registration list.  Fishbeck, where Chris is the IT Director, was a sponsor for the event and Cam's dad made the cool lighted café sign that a couple was lucky enough to win in a giveaway.  The evening was incredible, watching over 150 people in our community support the mission of providing employment to individuals with different needs and abilities.  This non-profit cafe's motto is "We believe everyone belongs and we can work beside one another." At the end of the event, everyone walked away with a "Thanks a latte!" cookie.

Oma and Opa arrived on Friday to stay with us overnight and attend Cam's last baseball game Saturday morning.  We woke up to a cooler weekend and everyone was bundled up for the WMML field.  The wind was brisk and we are quite certain the concession stand may have run out of coffee and hot chocolate.  Patti and Steve arrived to surprise Cam as well.  The sun appeared briefly during the medal ceremony and Coach Mark was just as excited as each of the players.

Following the game, our family unit with Cam's grandparents made the short drive to Logan's Roadhouse for lunch.  Although we waited quite awhile for our midday meal, we were seated next to the fireplace and college football appeared on every tv in sight.  Our food was delicious and we bid farewell with thanks to Oma and Opa for being with us.

We were on the road again driving northward to attend our first Canadian Thanksgiving celebration.  Canadian Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday of October.  The holiday in Canada started in 1859 when Protestant leaders called on the colonial government to create a day for giving thanks.  

Coco's husband, Max is from Canada and Molly's husband, Jude is as well.  Even though it was still chilly, the sun shone
brightly on Lake Michigan in the mid-afternoon.  The turkey baking in the oven smelled wonderful and as we visited with everyone, the evening arrived too quickly.  We all sat down around 7p to dine on Thanksgiving mainstays.  Delicious desserts followed the feast and the entire setting was so relaxing.  Before we knew it, the 9p hour was approaching and it was time for our fam to get back on the road to GR. 

Cam was especially proud of himself as we headed out and said, "I was really patient, wasn't I? I did not keep asking you when we were leaving."

Camology Quotes:

On the night of the fundraiser, the auction was held in the church sanctuary right across from the café. One of Cam's duties was to be certain people didn't bring any food or drink inside.  Perhaps next time, he'll need a whistle.
"People are not listening.  I keep telling them.  We need a sign!"

Sunday, October 2, 2022

A Day for Victory - Week of Sept. 26th

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory." ~Mahatma Ghandi

We are seeing glimpses of fall headed our way.  Some leaves on certain types of trees are hinting at different hues of red and orange.  The temperature took a drastic dive dipping from 81 to 61 overnight.  Our clothing changed from shorts to pants.  Even the wildlife we typically see running around in our backyard are relaxing more.

Cam has learned to advocate for himself more and more the older he has become.  This week, he arrived home after school one day and explained that in P.E. class, he was just sitting on the sideline and not really feeling involved.  After an email and open communication, the equipment he had used in middle school was found at the high school and he was back in business, exercising with his classmates.

On Friday evening, we were working on the Brody's Be Café upcoming
fundraiser event.  Cam successfully navigated both of his parents handling separate activities.  To celebrate the end the week, we dined at our local Cascade Roadhouse and sat in the outdoor area since the weather was still mild.

Saturday was a double-activity day for Cam.  First up was the West Michigan Miracle League baseball game.  Brody was dropped off at our house in the morning and rode with us to Rockford.  The boys were paired up with volunteers from the Hope College SIBS sorority.  Victoria and Kinsey were Cam's buddies.  As an added bonus, some elementary school teachers arrived to watch their former students play.  Ms. Barbara taught Cam and Brody for K-2nd grade and Ms. Kathy was their teacher for 3rd-4th grade.  They didn't even check with each other about attending a game and both were there on the same day!  It's important to note both Ms. Barbara and Ms. Kathy hold a very special place in our hearts as they continue to keep up with the boys year after year.

Brody's mom grabbed lunch for the boys and picked up her son.  Our family had a couple hours of relaxation before heading over to the South Christian football field for event number two.  

Victory Day is the day when South Christian players, coaches and cheerleaders team up to work with special needs children and adults, giving the participants a chance to score a touchdown against the Sailors. A professional announcer calls the play-by-play as the participants head down the field and they have their name announced for the touchdown.  Cam was paired up with two seniors Jake and Josh.  Jake was reassigned to another player and Josh became the main dude hanging out with Cam.  Josh talked Cam through the plays and it was so cool to see them chatting.  Josh told us he was heading to Calvin University for pre-med next year.

The bleacher stands were full of fans and supporters and the marching band played from the sidelines. Ms. Amanda, her friend Laura and Ms. Amanda's extended fam through her husband were all there as well.  Ms. Mary, Ms. Brooke, her husband and kids were cheering just as loudly as anyone else.  Cam was super excited to see them all!  

After each person had scored their touchdown or cheered, a medal was presented individually to all of the players.  The weather couldn't have been better and clearly the warm sunshine was a victory as well!  After all of the festivities, we treated our football player to dinner out at Peppino's. In a rare occasion, our family experienced restaurant meals two days in a row.  Sunday was a movie day and relaxation as Cam and his mom watched two movies they'd never seen, but shared the name title: "Yours, Mine and Ours" released in 1968 and 2005.  Both were entertaining and Cam especially liked the kids and all of their antics.

Camology Quotes:

One morning this week, Chris informed Jane and Cam that he had actually gotten up one hour earlier than he needed to by accident. As he told the story and we were all laughing, Cam said, 
"Ha! A day in the life of Dad."