Saturday, November 15, 2014

Charley NFocus

Charley and Pam Brooks - No wonder he's smiling!
If you asked me what Charley's biggest wish is, I would have to say he wishes to be a part of. In a word, he wants to be connected. To be in an arena where everyone sees him as he is; a regular person. Not a man with Down syndrome, but a man. On his terms, yes. But, accepted just the way he is. If he could articulate it, I believe that's what he would say.

On Thursday, November 13th, in Louisville, Kentucky, he got that chance. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Pam Brooks (My former school chum) that was extended to my family, we were guests at her table along with other representatives from NFocus Magazine for a night of spectacular food and entertainment at the March of Dimes Signature Chef fundraiser.

All right, helicopter mom that I am, I admit to momentary visions of how he might (or might not) fit in. How would he handle the crowd? (They were expecting at least 600 attendees). What would he eat? (Bye bye hamburgers. French Fries be gone - Hello gourmet feast). What if he wanted a glass of wine? (He is of age, after all). What if he got so excited that he danced a little jig in the midst of all those business suits and cocktail dresses? (He tends to do that when he's happy). Who would he sit with? (Besides his hovering parents). Would he be lonely? Who would he talk to? Charley has been known to rise to the occasion before. I was hoping this would be one of those times.

And was it ever. Even with all the action offering plenty of distraction, I couldn’t help but focus in on that grin of his. Sampling the cuisine. Watching the live auction, doing a little dance with one of Pam's associates after the dinner. Lonely? Not in this crowd. One by one, people stopped by to speak to him. Pam kept him informed of what was going on and what was coming next.

There are words for that night. NElectric. NSupercharged. NDelicious. NFascinating. NBenevolent. NCluded.

One might think Charley had a wonderful time. He did, but it was so much more than that. Yes, he enjoyed the food and the auction. He had fun meeting Pam and her fabulous NFocus associates, and her husband Joe. He was thrilled with the Godzilla DVD Pam brought him and the cookie Nancy gave him. All that.

But later when his head hit the pillow, he was pensive. I know the look; I've seen it before. It's a look that overrides any words. I could see it in his eyes. They were filled with what Charley calls his "happy." That place where you don't have to adjust your lens because the picture is perfect. That place where people see you as you. That place where you can just be yourself. I suspect the NFocus associates were just being themselves too. They may have no idea what they did for my son, but Brad and I sure do. And Charley does too.

I hope NFocus raised more funds for the March of Dimes than they ever dreamed possible. I hope that somehow they know what a difference they make in the lives of others. They sure made a difference for my Charley. And there's only one word for that. NPriceless.

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