and she told two friends ..

 

 

Ed note: I had hoped to write an introduction to the following letter that I recently received from a reader. But the last twelve hours have not looked kindly on such pursuits. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure it can stand on its own.

I will say just one thing – I never thought I’d be so happy to be bathroom reading.

 

To: Jess at Diary

From: A new reader

Dear Jess,

Writing a thank you letter is much more complex than one would guess.  I am attempting to find the words to write you an eloquent, heartfelt thank you letter in which my emotions are palpable. You have ignited a fire in my soul, unlike anything I have yet experienced.

I am a college student in a small town in South Dakota. I am not someone who others turn to for her superb public speaking skills. I am not the person who exudes passion for any one topic is such a manner that others actually associate her with it. I am just another student wandering the campus on my way to graduation so I can enter the “real world” and THEN I will make a difference.  Or at least I was that person. I am not so much that person anymore, in fact I have nearly thrown her out the window and traded her in for a much more motivated version. A version that no longer feels her voice is too small to affect anyone.

So what does this upgrade/transformation have to do with you? Great question! You see, I have wanted to make a difference in the world since I can remember, but never really knew how. Most my life I figured just existing would be enough, however, lately merely existing has not been enough.

I spent this last summer working at a daycare in my hometown which specializes in working with children ages 3 to 21 who have special needs.  My world was reshaped and changed. My heart quadrupled in size, or maybe even more than that, perhaps it expanded in an exponential matter beyond mankind’s ability to actually measure. Either way the amount of love I felt nearly made my heart explode, I was touched by all the children, whether they had epilepsy, down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy or other various diagnosis, I was touched by them all.

At first I thought this was it. I would make a difference by loving on these children and their families and telling my friends and family how much I love it. That was all I was capable of, but others told me it was more than most are capable of, so I felt comfortable with that.  As my school year began and progressed and I spent more time away from those children, I felt like it was not enough.  I wanted to share my love for those kids with others, but didn’t really know how.  I joined a Down Syndrome awareness organization and Autism Speaks on Facebook, and my transformation began.

Upon learning that April is Autism Awareness Month I knew I wanted to let others know.  A couple of days later I had yet to come up with any idea on how to spread the news when I noticed my RA decorating our floor’s bulletin board for March.  The next day I e-mailed her and asked if I could decorate the bulletin board for April, she agreed and I set to work planning the board.

A week into my project I found your blog. The rest is history.  I became, and still am, addicted to your words. The eloquence and power behind your one voice has reached so many others that I realized that I may be just one voice but I can be a very loud voice, and I can touch countless others.

Jess, your strength and determination to create a world that will accept and understand Brooke pushed me to actually work towards creating a world for all “my children”.  I call all the children at the daycare “my children” because I love them and want them to have every opportunity in their lives, and when they hurt, like a parent, I too hurt.

 

 

Today I posted the bulletin board on my floor (ed note: please see the photo at the top of the post and click to zoom), but I did not stop there as I once had planned.  I also posted new name tags on all the doors of my floor, in the shape and colors of the autism awareness ribbon, so each time the girls enter their rooms they are reminded.

With those two feats accomplished I posted the first of many coming blog entries inside the stall doors in the bathroom. (I know you probably never imagined your words gracing the stall doors of a dormitory bathroom, but it is a very effective way to reach the girls in my dorm). I have already heard several positive comments and feedback to my work, this makes me feel good but it also pushes me to continue to reach others and to spread the word.

I hope to use my new-found voice to push for acceptance and understanding of all individuals in the special needs community. Each April I will focus on Autism Awareness, just like each October I will focus on Down Syndrome Awareness.  I hope that one day all “my children” will be loved, respected, valued, and understood for who they are.

Thank you for not being afraid to let your voice ring out loud and clear, because without your voice I may never have found my own.

Sincerely,

C

**

Again and again I will say it – Awareness is not the goal, but it is the only means by which we will achieve it.

Tell your story. Use your voice. You never know who is listening.

Thank you, C. From the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU.

30 thoughts on “and she told two friends ..

  1. WOW! C. – you are one amazing lady. My son and I thank you for the selfless work you are doing for him and his friends. And Jess – you are changing lives all over the country and the world. Awesome.

  2. Yes, this is why we talk, write, share. One person CAN make a difference. Thank you C for sharing Jess’s big, powerful voice and finding your own. Knowing that young people like you exist just made my morning.

    Onward and upward Jess. This is FAB!

  3. Wow C! Thank you so much! You are indeed making a difference and I can tell you will make big and important contributions to this world.

  4. Oh, C! Never, ever doubt the power of your single voice to make a difference in the world. Even when it feels like you are whispering into the wind, know that your voice will be carried and someone, somewhere, WILL hear you. On behalf of my son, thank you for adding your voice to the conversation!

  5. WTG C!!!!!!!!!! Look at what you are doing not only for yourself and all us out here in the autism and down syndrome world, but each and every person you come in contact with. As Eric Clapton said, you can change the world!!! Thank-you on behalf of Aidan:)

  6. Jessica, Jessica, see what you have done. You have a gift to inspire and to lead. You have changed the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, and there will be many more because of the ripple effect of your motivating words. C writes eloquently of your effect upon her and there are so many others who quietly live their lives enriched by you and your mile wide heart.
    You have done much in your young life and you have much to do yet. I suspect the range of your influence will increase as you live your life and help others live theirs.
    You are so special and so loved,
    Dad

  7. If we can all educate one person and that person educate another and so forth and so on. You never know when something will click with a person. Keep playing it forward everyone.

  8. Wow just wow… To know that this exists gives my heart just a little something extra… I have to wonder if “small town” South Dakota isn’t a bit close to home!

  9. Dear C,
    You shall do great things! You already are my dear. Thank you for your passion and dedication on behalf of parents everywhere.
    Hugs,
    BonCeeCe

    Jess- ripple in the pond, baby!

  10. you often inspire me as well – small things make such a big difference, if we could all learn just to do one small thing, what a HUGE thing that could be!!

  11. C, I say “Thank you” to you. For loving our children and sharing your love and concern for our children with others.

  12. C – I am pretty sure I love you. Your writing is absolutely superb and it gives us a clear window into your beautiful soul. My heart is warm thinking about how Jess has inspired you to lean into the strength that is all your own. Your passion, creativity and power jump off the page and I am very excited about the impact you are making in the community in which you live. May this be just the begining of a full and rewarding career and life for you. Godspeed.

  13. Just Wow! This is what awareness is about. If you can just reach one person, then that person can reach out to others! The power of awareness is that, if it makes one person stop and ask.. what is this all about, what can I do.. then there is one more voice to speak out and do something. That is what awareness is about, whether it is about a lighting a blue light, a blog or whatever. Thanks Jess for reaching out.. and thank you to the student who wanted to do more 🙂

  14. Jess, you don’t need to publish this comment, but I had no other way to let you know about this. When I used my Android phone to read your post this morning, an ad from care.com was blazoned across the top with the words “Mental Retardation Care.” Needless to say, I was horrified. Not being able to find their Chief Marketing Officer’s email address, I sent the following email to their PR officer (jflattery@care.com). I also copied Google’s press department.

    Dear Jo,

    I was horrified and saddened this morning when I used my Android phone to visit one of my favorite websites (https://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com). Blazened across the top was your ad with the phrase “Mental Retardation Care.” Now, not being savvy on how Google ads work on the Android operating system, I do not know whether this was Google’s characterization or yours, but I hope it was a sincere mistake. If 9-year-old Katie gets it (http://diaryofakatie.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/the-saddest-word-of-all/), then I would hope care.com would too. If care.com truly lives by the words on your website (“We understand the difficulties and struggles you face when trying to find the right care and services for your families, yourself, and your home.”), then you will rectify this situation immediately.

    Regards,

    Lisa

  15. I think I love you too C! Seriously. So wonderful. Yes, keep sharing, keep writing. You absolutely never know who is listening! Excuse my cheesy metaphor, but momentum is building behind this boulder we’re pushing up the hill, and each new voice lightens the load just a little bit more.

  16. C, you are an amazing young woman. I think we’ll be hearing about big things from you 🙂 All the best to you, and thank you.

  17. C – Your passion to support the autism community is truly inspiring and amazing. I oversee Autism Speaks’ college program, Autism Speaks U, and we would LOVE to get you involved. If you happen to read this comment, please email me at sarah.caminker@autismspeaks.org. This way I can learn more about your efforts and send you out materials for your events. Many, many thanks!

  18. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Your comments have made my heart burst with joy! I find more strength in your love and encouragement. I never guess my seemingly small act would evoke such an outpouring of love from this family of which I have only recently joined! I am thankful that Jess shared my words and works with her community of followers, because you are such a loving supportive community. I don’t see an end in sight for my efforts, in fact I only see more opportunity to share my love and spread the word. You are all amazing thank you, thank you, thank you, from the very deepest depths of my heart!
    Peace, Love, and Happiness!
    C

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  20. TG wow what an awesome letter!!
    12 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    KM-Young Go C, you have an awesome voice and you write one perfect letter! As a parent of a son with Autism, I thank you and wish that there were more people in the world just like you!
    12 hours ago · Like

    ACF Jess you inspire more than just your own community but the world over. Thank goodness for that and for you!
    11 hours ago · Like

    JW Wow!!!! I wonder if this is in the same small town that I am thinking of! This is great!!!
    11 hours ago · Like

    MM Amazing!!
    10 hours ago · Like

    BLM so great! love the bathroom stall idea. so funny!
    10 hours ago · Like

    SC A fantastic blog post!

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