Sunday, October 29, 2023

Trunks with Treats - Week of Oct. 23rd

"We can't help everyone... but everyone can help someone." ~Dr. Loretta Scott

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

It was a non-profit week in the Weatherford household.  With 4 events on the horizon, Cameron was a bit relieved to only have four full days of school. 

Wednesday evening was the "Fowling to Keep 'Em Rolling" fundraiser at the Fowling Warehouse just a few minutes from our house.  Cam saw quite a few friends there including Onji, Gibson and Liam, the newest Youth Ambassador.  JT's pizza was served, many items were raffled off and costume winners were crowned.  It was a successful event and a great turnout.  As a board member, Jane was so happy to see everyone rally around the cause to provide necessary equipment to those in need.

Friday afternoon, Jane arrived at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to help set up for the Trunk or Treat activity.  The Guild, which Jane is a member of, created personalized treat bags for inpatients and outpatients.  Cameron helped created the bags and also agreed to dress up as part of The Wizard of Oz theme.  One of the attendees even let Jane "borrow" a real puppy to have in her basket for a few minutes.  The ten-week old poodle named Lloyd (not Toto) truly looked like a stuffed animal.  Cam rocked his lion costume and had fun exploring the Therapy Garden, which was turned into the Scare-apy Garden for the evening.  

At 7pm, Jane and her son headed off to the next Trunk or Treat at Clock Mobility.  Chris was there supporting Lori's Voice, for which he is a board member.  It was a mild temperature evening and the rain held off.  All of the organizations at Clock indicated that busloads of people had been dropped off earlier and it had been quite busy.  Cameron had collected lots of candy at MFB and declared upon entry to this one that he did not want any more treats. One of the creative decorations was a Barbie photo booth.  Our entire family departed the Clock Mobility location at the same time in different vehicles.  We all slept in the next morning.

Saturday brought some sunshine with cooler temps in the 50s.  Chris and his son decided it was time to move the deck furniture under the house in preparation for the forecasted frost in the near future.  During the fall season, the leaves seem to fly off the trees as quickly as they are cleaned up.

Saturday evening, Ms. Ann arrived to hang out with Cam while his parents attended the Mary Free Bed Gala downtown.  A photo booth was set up for the event.  The Center for Autism was the focus for fundraising and we heard some incredible stories, enjoyed a delicious dinner and danced to a live band.

Sunday afternoon, it was Cam's turn to be out and about.  We all met up with Brody and his mom at Culver's for lunch.  From there, we headed to the movie theater where the boys and their moms had tickets for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour concert movie.  
Brody loves music and asked if his best buddy, Cam could see the flick too.  It marked the very first time that the foursome had watched a concert on the big screen.  At times, it truly seemed like you were right there in the audience.  For Cam, the pure enjoyment of hearing the songs was relaxing.  None of us thought we would make it through the entire 2 hours and 43 minutes of run time.  
To our collective surprise, we stayed until the end!  Upon arrival home, Cam and his mom declared it was definitely worth it and much more affordable than the actual concert ticket price!

Camology Quotes:

Cam pays attention to details.  His questions can surprise us, not only because they are insightful, but also since we may not have thought of them.  At the end of the movie, he asked his mom.

"Do you think the people they showed in the concert all had to sign a disclaimer to be in the movie?" 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The YA Club - Week of Oct. 16th

"I will continue to lift as I climb." ~Blessing Adogame, Youth Ambassador of Theirworld, UX Product Manager for Microsoft
A youth ambassador is a young agent, representative and/or steward for the charity for which they work. Youth ambassadors have been introduced in order to promote participation, or spread goodwill or knowledge.
Cameron was asked to be the first youth ambassador for Renew Mobility in 2020.  This was in part, due to his idea to donate our used handicap van to the non-profit for their use of transporting equipment.  He is always ready to tell people about the organization and we have learned that the youth ambassadorship does not expire any time soon.
Now, in 2023, his buddy Liam was honored as the latest esteemed youth ambassador for Renew Mobility.  The executive director of Renew, Coleen, set up a surprise luncheon on Friday at Culver's. Since both Cam and Liam attend the same high school, they were both on fall break.  The best part was that Liam had no idea why we were all there!  Both families were in full force with all members in attendance.  Everyone 
enjoyed a delicious lunch after the latest Renew Mobility Youth Ambassador was inducted.

Since Cam and his mom had the day off together, we decided we should celebrate.  Chris met us for an early dinner in Ada at a place Cam had never been before: Garage Bar and Grill.  Cameron's dad had raved about their chicken tenders and cheese curds.  Cam laughed when his mom showed him in the menu that the cheesy appetizer was called squeaky wheels.  We all enjoyed a great meal and Cam declared the chicken and cheese his all-time favorite!

The weekend was filled with various projects and a Halloween movie- Hocus Pocus.  Cam helped his mom figure out decorations for treat bags that we were customizing for kid patients at Mary Free Bed as part of a project for the MFB Guild.  

Since Monday was still part of Cam's fall break, we decided to include it in this week's blog.  Mom and son met Brody and his family at Deep Roots Produce located in Caledonia, just 15 minutes away.  Their pumpkin patch is enormous.  The location also has a petting zoo, free of charge, with alpacas, goats, chickens, roosters, sheep, donkeys and pigs.  A feed cup is purchasable to feed the hungry animals.  

Our crew can absolutely confirm that alpacas do spit without any warning whatsoever.  The goats were Cam and Jane's favorite along with the sweet sheep.  We all picked out pumpkins, purchased some farm fresh produce and enjoyed the sunshine.  The boys even thought that Jane and Jenny could almost be mistaken for sisters.

Our area of western Michigan is approaching its peak leaf color for the fall season. As Jane and Cam were headed back home, they passed countless trees that almost looked painted.  Jane stopped to snap a pic, which made her son a bit nervous that far too many laws were being impacted by this action.

Camology Quotes:

Every Monday, Cam has his swimming therapy and PT appointment back to back.  Depending on his parents' work commitments, some days we're arriving just in time.  Cameron always shares his honest opinion... 

"Mom, you parked horribly!"

"Ok, thanks for your support, Cam." (laughing)

"Well, it's the truth, Mom." (both chuckling)

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Soccer Power - Week of Oct. 9th

"There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met." ~Jim Henson

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." ~Khalil Gibran

As we begin to slip into our fall routine, the sunshine can be a bit elusive.  Catching the sunrise and seeing the glimmer of vibrant rays gives us a hint of incoming sun.

Power Soccer practice started this week for Cam. Power soccer is played by people who use power chairs for daily mobility; it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the nation on four wheels. It’s also the fastest growing sport offered in Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports program.  

Every Wednesday, kids who signed up for the program meet at the Mary Free Bed YMCA for 2 hours.
Cameron attended a few practices at the end of the last season and decided he was all in for this fall.  The benefits go beyond being involved in a team sport.  Chris noted that Cam was chatting away with a newcomer during a break.  The social aspect definitely increases confidence and the ability to meet new friends.

Most weekends, if there are not other activities scheduled, Cam can be found helping each of his parents independently.  During a computer session with Chris, his son expertly navigated an app, indicating which areas to access to modify the content needed.  One of Cam's best qualities is his ability to encourage others, especially when you're doubting yourself.

Sunday afternoon, Jane and her son decided to drive to Grand Haven to check in on Oma and Opa.  Since it had rained all day Saturday, it was nice to see a break in the weather.  The fall colors on the tree-lined highway provided a beautiful backdrop for the commute.

We busied ourselves with organizing and checking in on a few technical questions.  After our time together, we were happy to be heading out with some bags of donation items.
Cam and his mom were able to say hi to some of Oma and Opa's friends in the building.  Our two-hour visit went by much too quickly.

Back in Grand Rapids, the wildlife continue to visit, inching closer.  The turkeys, though, should be a bit more wary with Thanksgiving right around the corner!

Camology Quotes:

Cameron, as most teens, has become a little more argumentative with his parents.  Normally, though, it is in a joking way.  Cam was questioning the order in which Chris was carrying out a task.

"I'm not sure what you're doing, Dad, but you do you!"

Sunday, October 8, 2023

We All Benefit - Week of Oct. 2nd

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~Winston Churchill
“It's easier to take than to give. It's nobler to give than to take. The thrill of taking lasts a day. The thrill of giving lasts a lifetime.” ~Joan Marques

One of our anticipated fall events finally arrived this week: the Brody's Be Cafe Benefit!  It is the only annual fundraiser for the cafe where Cam held his first job this past summer.  Many items were ready for the live and silent auction.  A recap of the listings can be viewed here:

Cameron was very proud to have a basket created in his honor.  Each "Berista" had a silent auction created for them based upon their favorite things.  Cam's signage read: 
Hi my name is Cam!
I started working at Brody's this summer and love working the hot dog cart and greeting lots of people. I'm told I have a smile no one can match.
Some of my favorite things are my nonprofit work at Lori's Voice, Brody's, & Renew Mobility. 
I love to hang out with my friends, play baseball and eating at Culvers.
Did you know I play on a Miracle League Baseball Team?

Oma and Opa braved the rain to make their way to Grand Rapids Thursday afternoon for the big event.  Cam was so happy they could attend.  Jane is a board member and was busy printing materials over the past few weeks and assisting with setup.  Chris was assigned to help out with audio and visual.  Cameron had the honor of greeting people as they made their way into the live auction setting at the community church adjacent to the cafe.  Food and drink were catered by local establishments and thankfully, the rain subsided for our event.  
There were over 300 attendees and 94 items to bid on. The entire evening was a big success and our family was a part of the memorable experience. Cam's basket had a winning bid of $210!  Oma tried take it home, but she was outbid. Since it was a late evening, we all slept in the next morning and drove Cam to school so he wouldn't have to wake up too early.

It felt like fall on Friday with the temperatures taking a dive.  Oma and Opa stayed with us for two nights and we enjoyed white chicken chili and cornbread for our Friday night supper.  Cam's last baseball game was scheduled for Saturday a.m. but it was canceled due to rainy, windy conditions.  In the early afternoon, Oma and Opa headed back to Grand Haven and we were so thankful for the extra time with them.  Chris, Jane and their son were on their way northward to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with our cousins and family friends.
Many of us tried our first bite of a Canadian staple, poutine.  French fries, cheese curds and hot gravy make up this popular dish. They even serve it at McDonald's and Burger King in Canada.
Our 26lb turkey with all of the fixings left us all feeling a bit stuffed!
The weather didn't cooperate for any outdoor time.
Cam's younger cousins found plenty of things to stay occupied inside. Cameron also thoroughly enjoys being the older cousin and playing the self-appointed role of oversight manager.

Camology Quotes:

Cam's parents have told him a few times (or a hundred) that he is somewhat of an expert eavesdropper. Seemingly private conversations are overheard by Cameron's targeted listening skills.  As we teased him about his uncanny ability to hear things that potentially were not intended for his ears, he provided a straightforward response.

"Well, I think eavesdropping is just the nature of who you are."

Sunday, October 1, 2023

September Summer - Week of Sept. 25th

“September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.” ~Rowland E. Robinson

It's always a gift when we experience warmer weather in a time span when it is typically cooler.  

At the tail-end of the school week, Cameron's group experienced an outing to the Action Wake Park. It was a cloudier, partly rainy day but the kids had a good time.

Friday afternoon, upon departure from the bus, Cam assisted his dad finishing up yard work.

The WMML baseball game on Saturday provided a sunny welcome to the weekend. The helpers were the SIB (Sigma Iota Beta) sorority from Hope College.  Abby and Rachel were Cam's volunteers, and they were eager to see the kids play.  The awesome batting box that Cameron and other ball players use truly makes all of the difference when it comes to feeling included.

In the batting picture, Cam's photo is shown on the scoreboard behind him.  Everything always looks so professional!  Brody's mom, Jenny, requested a pic with Brody's buddy too.

Following the warm game, we were on way to the cottage.  With the pleasant temps, we remained outside for the entire duration.  The sunshine and water just made us all feel relaxed.  Cousin David paid us a visit since he had flown in from Texas to winterize his cottage.  Hanging out with the cousins is truly a favorite weekend activity.  Our outdoor dinner of chicken pot pie, veggies and fruit were a great combination.  Fortunately for us all, Calla picked out a delicious cookie dessert with frosting designs.  It's easy to see why Cam gets along with his cousins so well- the "sweet tooth" is strong with this group!

Camology Quotes:

Cousin Katie M. recommended a book for Cameron called "All the Way to the Top" which is a true story about Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, a girl born with cerebral palsy.  She is a lifelong activist for disability rights.  Jane and Cam read it together and this was his review:

"That was a really good book, Mom.  I don't know if I would've liked it as much if I didn't have a disability."