LA's Walk To Talk

My printed speech was in hand along with 150 business cards tucked in my small red purse. I had spoken earlier this past month at an Inland Empire Walk for Apraxia and, frankly, it wasn't my best work. I had stayed up late the night before arguing with a guy I had really liked and expected to perform the next day while emotionally exhausted. Thus, the last speech I gave wasn't terrible, it just wasn't the best I could do.

This time though-I knew I had to speak better. I had spent a week at least organizing my speech, timing myself, and emphasizing a message that I wanted people to walk away with. This walk was getting some celebrity attention between Gage Golightly and Ronda Rousey, and I could lie to you guys and say that I thought nothing of it. But I pride myself on honesty; the first time I heard the news that I was speaking with Ronda Rousey - I was on the phone with friends for 3 hours on my birthday night completely freaked out. 

Why do I need to speak if someone like Ronda Rousey is there?

This consumed me and I knew it wasn't right. My friends and family saying "It's not a competition and just stick to your goal." Easy for them to say as they weren't the ones speaking, but they were right. They were completely right. 

So I wrote my goal on the header where my speech was, "JUST INSPIRE ONE KID."

If I did that, I'd consider it a success. 

At 8:15 I hopped into my Aunt Tami's car, along with my strong female clan-Aunt Christine, My Mom, and my Sister. We drove to Santa Monica for the LA Walk to Talk where we'd also meet my other Aunt Wendie and her goddaughter.

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My Girl Squad
It was a beautiful morning! The weather was great, no rain in sight. I had my Vanilla Latte from Starbucks and even had more coffee at the event. My sister and I played corn hole for a while. I walked around and at every corner was a new or familiar face. Some I had met at the conference, via my blog, or even at past walks.

It was a reunion where we all had something in common. I quickly introduced myself to Ronda Rousey, basically just saying my name and how I was introducing her and that we'll do great.

The speeches began...

Dave Hammer discussed CASANA and how much the organization does for children and families fighting Apraxia.

I was up next, a little shaky but that's alright. I discussed how none of chose Apraxia, but we all choose how we overcome and perceive it. I also focused on my accomplishments, which were largely academically related.

I introduced Ronda Rousey, we quickly hugged and wished good luck. She discussed her early days thinking she was "dumb" and how she was attracted to physical athleticism as a means to express herself.

You know when my initial anxiety hit, I had been thinking that Ronda was better than me because she was a celebrity. The second she spoke though, I knew we fought the same battle. We both had our "dumb" moments, but we overcame the same disorder in two different ways. She took it on physically, I took it on academically.

There's no right or wrong way, our fights were won in two different ways. Perhaps the most inspirational aspect is the fact that if we could both fight in two different techniques, then ANY kid with Apraxia could also win their own fight with either path they naturally choose.

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Ronda Rousey, Dena Taylor (my mom), Me, and AnnMaria De Mars (Ronda's Mom). Two daughters and Two Moms that have been through the Apraxia Journey when very little was known about the disorder.

The speeches were great, but frankly the children I met at this walk truly were inspiring. I know my initial goal was to inspire at least one kid, but I think several kids inspired me instead.

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Ashlynn & I.
I finally met Ashlynn, the daughter of Laura Smith blogger on SLP Mommy of Apraxia. Her smile showed such natural kindness. I knelt down to her and we talked about how I'm old and I have Apraxia too, how she's going to get an awesome medal, and she gave the biggest high five ever.

I even met Audrey from Team Audrey in Glendale, CA. Her mom, Nichol, was even kind enough to let me borrow Audrey's old super hero cape. Now Audrey and I had something in common-Apraxia and the fact we are super heroes. I had heard about Audrey, but in person her energy is insane in the best way possible. She would stack up her belongings-water bottles, a bag, a book-like a jenga tower and run around it. The whole time running she'd smile and look straight at me, quite the ham honestly. While running, she'd fall on the ground and laugh-just to get up and do it again. Welcome to Apraxia, where kids fight it with a smile and no matter how many times they fall, they just get back up again to try again.

I met another boy named Mason and he really wanted to play corn hole rather than talk to me, which I can't blame him. I'd rather play corn hole than talk to grown-ups too. He gave me a high five with a big smile. Of course, running off to play right after.

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Oliver, Lindsay, and me.
After I spoke, I later met Lindsay who has been reading my blog, but more importantly I met her boy Oliver. Now Oliver is a little over 3 years old and, like most kids, he's still working on his speech. I knelt down again and talked to Oliver for quite a while. We shared our super hero capes, the fact that I loved his face painting, and of course, in true competitive fashion, he made sure to point proudly to his shiny medal. Oliver knew I didn't have a medal; and he made sure to emphasize that by proudly showing off his-just as he should.

These kids at the walk were the true inspiration and I truly wish that more people could get on the kids' levels. Literally and figuratively. Every child I see, and I've done this for years, I get on my knees to be at their level. I see their world for just a few minutes through their size and expressions, while quickly reflecting on my own journey.

I know this sounds odd, but I feel that I just "get" them. I get their frustration too, the fact that there are adults in the world who are supposedly more wise yet they cannot see nor take the time to understand these kids. Parents, that's not directed at you whatsoever, you 'get' your kids of course. But think about all the other adults that just don't "get it." There's a lot of them-teachers, in-laws, strangers at grocery stores, etc.

That's what is so inspiring for me. These kids I meet are the most intelligent and proactive people that I have ever met; more intelligent than most adults I've encountered.

At the end of the day, these walks are for the kids. It doesn't matter how much money is raised, who is speaking, and how many sponsors attend. The kids need to feel a sense of belonging and pride, for they have fought harder for their rightful voice and for kindness than most adults could even fathom.