Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meyer Center Holiday Ladies Luncheon

AnnaKate's school, The Meyer Center, does a huge holiday fundraiser each year. Today was my first time attending the luncheon. This is more than just a luncheon--it is an event for over 1,000 people and it raises over $175,000 for the school. It was an amazing event! They had a huge silent auction of over 400 items. It was fun to walk around and mingle with friends, drink a mimosa and bid on a few gifts. During the luncheon they did a live auction and a beautiful tribute to the Meyer Center founder, Dr. Leslie Meyer. Edwin McCain also sang a few songs...I just love him!! He is from Greenville and a huge supporter of The Meyer Center. They also had two parent of which was me! I agreed to speak and then got a little nervous. But I wanted others to know how important her school is to us. For those of you who don't know, she attends a preschool for special needs children and she gets all of her therapies at school!! It is truly an amazing place like no other. She started when she was 1 and she will hopefully stay there until she is 6. We feel so blessed to have The Meyer Center in our lives. I thought I would share my speech with you. You would have been so proud--I did not break down and cry at all! (Jessica...there is little tribute to you in it!)

Hi my name is Kelly and this is my daughter AnnaKate. It is a privilege for me to speak to you today as a Meyer Center parent. No parent ever expects to need the Meyer Center. You expect a typical child and let’s be honest you want a typical child. But we found ourselves needing the Meyer Center and we could not feel more blessed to be a part of such an amazing place. I want to share AnnaKate’s story with you.

My husband and I were so fortunate to be able to adopt AnnaKate. After infertility issues an adoption situation literally fell right into our laps. We were able to follow AnnaKate’s birth mothers perfect pregnancy and actually go to the hospital to pick up our daughter. A few physical characteristics led us to believe that something may not be typical with AnnaKate. I remember telling my mom, Mom…I don’t care she is ours. And she was! This precious little gift was ours. Shortly after her birth she was diagnosed with Rubenstein Taybi syndrome. This rare genetic disorder causes severe developmental delays and mental disabilities. We were pretty crushed and had to grieve the loss of typical. We were embarking on a new kind of normal. Normal that included tons of doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, slow weight gain, missed milestones, constant illnesses and that feeling of just being different.

But at a year old, AnnaKate started the Meyer Center. She was typical at the Meyer Center. We had found a family that understood and a place where we fit in. AnnaKate made friends and so did I. I made friends that understood what it is like to raise a child that is not typical. The Meyer Center is truly unique place like no other. AnnaKate’s teachers and therapists treat her like their own. They have high expectations for this little girl and she will meet them with their help. AnnaKate’s progress at the Meyer Center has been amazing to watch. As I said before, you never expect to need the Meyer Center but if you find yourself there you will realize that it is truly a place like no other and you will feel privileged to be a part of it. The quote that is seen all around the Meyer Center is, “If disability is a hurdle then this is the place they learn to leap”. To me- that says it all.

About 5 years ago my husband and I attended a Meyer Center benefit concert with Edwin McCain. That night sitting in those seats I had no idea what the future held for us and that today I would be speaking to you and sharing how the Meyer Center has touched our lives. We never expected to be on the receiving end of the Meyer Center’s services. We are so grateful for Dr. Meyer, all the supporters of the Meyer Center and for you. AnnaKate would not be where she is today without the Meyer Center and your generosity. Thank you for coming today to support the work of the Meyer Center and our precious little AnnaKate.

Our table

AnnaKate was in the tribute video. The picture was from Halloween--she was "Precious"!

This is proof that I spoke. I did not hold the "wiggly worm" the whole time!! She had to make a graceful exit.

Edwin McCain is just fabulous. He topped of the day!

Cathy and I shed a few good tears!

My mom, me and AnnaKate

My photographer, Marsha, me and AnnaKate

It was such a special day. I am so appreciative for all my family and friends being there to support us.

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Myssie said...

Well, you made me tear up! What a beautiful speech Kelly. The Meyer Center sounds like an amazing place.

Jennifer said...

Kelly did an AMAZING job!!! I have already told several people about you and what a heartfelt speech you gave. In fact, I was coming over to your blog so I could copy your blog address because I wrote about you in a post today - I hope you don't mind. :)

Seriously, you were great and said everything that needed to be said...just perfectly!!!

angie said...

Tears here too....also wishing that we had a Meyer Center sounds wonderful! I think that is where I struggle...not having the "support system" here of people who are traveling a similar journey. Good for you for standing up and talking!

Cindy said...

Go Kelly! I'm so proud of you!

I agree that the Meyer Center sounds like the place we all wish our kids could attend...and to have the support network of other parents of special needs kids sounds wonderful. I've spent so much time carting Natalie around to therapy that I haven't had much chance to meet other parents and develop personal relationships...that's an area that I'm truly lacking.

I love the quote "She was typical at the Meyer Center." That's what we all wish for our kids...that SOMEWHERE they are typical.

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

I can say almost anything behind the security of my blog, but getting in front of all those people!!! Props to you girl!

beautifully written

Love you!

Brooke said...

you are so brave! that was such a sweet speech. that's a very special place... =)

Girlfrog said...

What a beautiful speech, it brought tears to my eyes! I'm so glad that you and AnnaKate have such a wonderful and devoted school. What a blessing that you are her parents and that she is able to go to this school that is just right for her.

The Parkers said...

Your speech was absolutely perfect! What a great day!! AnnaKate looked adorable in her new Christmas outfit. Love it! Oh, and yes, hot chocolate in front of the tree with the kids is definitely in order. Let's plan it soon.

Melissa said...

I did not know you were talking until today. I am so sad that I missed it live. The Meyer Center is a unique place and I am so glad that you found us. It is the perfect place for AnnaKate to thrive. We love having Miss AnnaKate.

Oh and I got tears in my eyes too :)


Anonymous said...

What a lovely and moving speech. I am so proud of you!

Holly said...

Kelly, I am proud to call you my friend, and proud of all that AK has achieved with the Meyer Center and YOU!

Anna said...

So proud of you and AnnaKate! What a special night for you both. Beautifully said!

sassy seamstress said...

so i found you through jennifer clardy and i have to tell you that we have sooooo much in common. i keep my blog sort of anonymous, but i would love to chat with you sometime. do you have facebook by any chance? if so, i'd love to contact you through that. i've only read this one post, but i know we could talk for hours! and no...i'm not crazy or psycho :) have i made myself sound that way? hopefully, jennifer can vouch for me!

Anne said...

You did great! Hooray!

The Peacock's said...

Wow, what an amazing place. That is so neat you have something like that for AnnaKate. Your speech was beautiful!

Kristi said...

You made me cry for sure. You are a amazing, beautiful and special mom to AnnaKate. I wish I could have been there to hear it in person.Wish that we had a Meyer Center here too.

Kelly said...

I am in tears! So proud of you! What a great place for Anna Kate to spend her days! Sounds like you don't have to worry about her when you are not with her.

Anonymous said...

Kelly - WOW what a great speech for a wonderful place! I am proud of all you and Billy have done for AK. She is a wonderful little girl, and way more special then just a "typical" child!

Michele Wilson

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Kelly! Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.
I am so happy and blessed to know you and AnnaKate and to be able to share in all the wonderful things that the Meyer Center does for us and everyone.
It is one thing to walk this walk alone but it is a completely different thing to walk with friends and support.

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