I was reveling in that culminating moment, reflecting on just how far my 11 year old daughter had come.
She used to be a girl who couldn’t be in the same room as a balloon; for fear it would pop unexpectedly, forcing her auditory system into a messy traffic jam. Music was also a culprit, especially when at high decibels with a loud bass thumping. Arizona felt these sounds and vibrations so deeply in her body that she would freeze, both hands covering her ears for protection. Her anxiety of anything unknown, even after days of preparation and visual schedules outlining the exact breakdown of the upcoming events, often led her to moments where she did not know how to move forward.
And here was my daughter, on stage with Georgianna Junco-Kelman (gala chair and my beautiful friend, but someone she had just met that evening). She walked calmly down the blue runway, music blaring and thumping, holding balloons, lights and sounds shooting toward her, looking out at a crowd of unfamiliar faces, having only participated in one scrambled run through an hour prior.
And Arizona did her thing : bowed at the end of the runway, turned to the crowd and lifted her arms out wide on either side of her. She held on to that huge bouquet of balloons, not a finger pressed to either ear in the fear of one popping.
I met her at the end of the runway. “Mommy, can you please hold my balloons now?” “Yes,” I said, “Well done, baby girl. How do you feel?” “I feel good, Mama. Can I go see the trains now?”
And so my support for Autism Speaks continues; funds raised for continued research and support to families affected by autism. I am a huge advocate for any way, shape or form autism awareness is heightened. Join me in my support!
(Grateful for girlfriend support!)