Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Fight For Gwen, and You Should Too.

I'm writing this when I'm supposed to be running out the door to a workshop. And it's the verb in that sentence, the 'running' one, that makes me stop and think.

Time for a personal story:

I was born three months premature in the late 1970s, and I weighed less than a gallon of milk. I was kept warm with doll clothes and tin foil under heat lamps. My parents were regularly told I was not going to make it. Like several times a day for several months. Several local churches in my hometown area started blood drives so that I could keep living.

I grew up, eventually, I mean, I got bigger, I lived. But I didn't live easily. There were doctors and therapists and specialists and all different kinds of meetings I remember going to and sitting in awkward rooms with awkward people and I'd have to do the dumbest things before my mom or dad heard terrible terms like "no gross motor skills" "no fine motor skills" "neurologically impaired".

Oh, did I mention the cerebral palsy? I should probably throw that into the story here too.

So, my parents did the best they could to let me have a regular childhood. I had friends, I went trick-or-treating, I had birthday parties. But it came at a cost. A sniffle would send me home for weeks on end and when I did get sick, I got SICK. A 24-hour stomach bug became a 2-week stomach bug. (This may be where I developed my love of bathrobes though) And oh man, all those kid events (riding a bike, playing sports), well it was nice to watch other people do them. (I did always want a varsity jacket though, they looked soft and warm.)

My parents also wanted me to have the best education possible. And I was lucky enough to have the advantages of going to school where I did, and getting an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that actually got followed. Sure, it was way embarassing to spend days after school learning how to use scissors or spend classes working on penmanship, but I was lucky.

I'm a grown-up now (Yeah, blows my mind too), and while I don't say much about my personal life anymore, the events of my childhood absolutely stuck with me. And when I find out about other kids, kids who maybe aren't so fortunate, or kids who need help the way I needed help, I'm going to do anything, everything, all the things possible to see that they get help.

This is why I'm fighting for Gwen. This is why when a state decides to act illegally and prevents a child from getting the opportunities she deserves, someone who can't even fight for themselves in the proper arena, those of us who can fight, who can speak up and speak out and help, have an obligation to do so greater than any dogma or social obligation.

This is someone's daughter, she needs help. When I needed help, people helped. It may not have been glorious or a financial windfall, but dammit, they helped.

Check out the website. Help in any and every way you can. Because this one time, it was for a little boy in New Jersey who just wanted to grow up so that one day he could have friends and go play and feel like he could belong somewhere and maybe be happy.

And now it's a beautiful little girl. Who loves punctuation. Who smiles and means the world to her parents.

And maybe next time, it's someone else's boy or girl, someone else's princess or little buddy and seriously, what's more important than helping a child be happy?

I'm late for my workshop. This post was totally worth it though.