by Al Perry
My daughter Lucia was born nine years ago. Nine months later I participated in my first Walk With Me. I got involved because Century 21 was a corporate sponsor and my firm Century 21 Advantage Gold had a history of supporting local Easter Seals efforts. Truth told I didn’t know much about Easter Seals. I got involved because it was fashionable to support a worthy cause.
I met so many great people during my first Walk. Most rewarding was meeting the children and the families impacted by Easter Seals. The kids were so full of excitement it was infectious. Some had difficulty communicating and others had mobility challenges. What they all had in common was a proud sense of accomplishment and a passion for life.
I was forever changed. It was like someone opened my eyes to show me a world of hope in a sea of obstacles. I looked at my healthy nine month old daughter sitting in our jogging stroller and appreciated our many blessings. Lucia smiled at me in much the same way the Easter Seals kids grinned at their parents. My wife and I walked that day and toward the end I picked Lucia up out of the stroller and held her hands so she could walk the final twenty feet. When we crossed the finish line a bunch of walkers and volunteers gave us high five’s.
Since that day Lucia and I have participated in Walk With Me each year. She is nine years old now and the Walk is one of her favorite days of the year. Every year we meet wonderful new people, many who are battling significant challenges. In the early years Lucia and I couldn’t help but see the differences. In recent years I’ve noticed a significant change. We have become more aware and now seem to focus more on our many similarities. The kids and their families are not so different from ours. Sure they may need help walking or communicating but they laugh and cry just like we do. They push themselves to try new things and get really frustrated when they don’t excel just like us. Their families support each other much like ours. Their smiles also light up a room.
I am so proud of Lucia and our family. We love participating because we meet new friends and take pride in helping others overcome their challenges. Today we see beyond someone’s limitations. We now see their inner strength. We are part of something special and it’s more rewarding than words can describe.