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Because every family deserves the blessing of a child with Down Syndrome...

7:07:00 AM

So...about that Buddy Cruise!

So it has been a whole MONTH since I returned from 2009 Buddy Cruise. This was my first trip, and I have to say it was amazing! Not only was it a relaxing and enjoyable cruise, but I had an opportunity to share Reece's Rainbow in person for the first time. I debated long and hard about bringing Reece with me, but in the end, was concerned that he would be overwhelmed and unhappy the whole trip. So I took my younger, typical son Owen...should have made him a t-shirt that said "NO, I am not Reece!"...because everyone who saw us said "it's Reece!" lol This was a wonderful time of fellowship, education, and making new friends in the Down syndrome community. There were families from all over the country and the world on board, even several adoptive families. I got to meet several well-known folks, like Emily Perl Kinglsey (writer for Seseame Street and author of "Welcome to Holland"). Sujeet Desai, the amazing musician and self advocate was also there with his family. All of the presenters were wonderful, relevant, and HUMAN :) They are all just moms and dads of children with Down syndrome who are passionate about advocacy, improving the world for their children and others like them, and focused on changing the way the world sees and includes our children. We talked about hearing problems, speech and language education, medical complications, estate planning and future trusts for our kids with special needs, adults with down syndrome, and of course the adoption and rescue part!....just about everything, it was very educational!

What I liked most about the Buddy Cruise was the length of time it gave all of us (5 days of sun and fun!) to meet and spend time with each other in an extended, casual, social setting. It wasn't just a warehouse full of thousands of people milling booths and picking up brochures. We had many scheduled presentations and events, but plenty of individual time on board, time to get off the ship and do your own excursions, and time to have some coffee with a new friend on deck 4 ;) It was a special time to come together with other folks you didn't know and enjoy yourself. Great opportunityt o make life-ling friends and network with each other. I highly recommend this cruise for any other families, no matter how many kids you have. All of us on the cruise...we're all aware of each other's behavioral struggles. We don't have to worry about what others think when my child goes tearing down the hallway ;) I was worried Reece might try to climb the rail while I wasn't looking, but now I know there were so many experienced DS parents there, I would have had about 30 built-in babysitters ;) All of the kids who attended, regardless of age, bonded with each other and really seemed to appreciate the opportunity to share in a trip like this! And even my Owen, who does noth ave Down syndrome, found himself bonding with several others (Anthony Murphy and Pierce and Joshua Hays, to name a few!), to whom he would proudly say "my brother has Down syndrome too!"

We will definitely be going again in 2010, ALL of us, Reece included! It is going to be held in conjunction with the NDSC Convention in Orlando, Fl July 16-18. The cruise leaves Monday the 19th, and returns the 23rd. It promises to be another awesome trip, so I hope all of you who are hoping to come to the convention will save up your duckets and book a room on board the Buddy Cruise too! There are tons of supervised, curriculum-based activities for the children, INCLUDING OURS, so don't hesitate!

The Buddy Cruise is also a registered 501c3 organization, and just like Reece's Rainbow, relies heavily on donations to provide quality educational programs and a special yearly cruise event! Reece's Rainbow was deeemd not eligible for the new Chase $5 Million Giveaway on Facebook because our focus is international. But the Buddy Cruise IS eligible, so you can still support the adoptive families of RR by voting for the Buddy Cruise in this online project.

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