This past week, the Kids & Dreams Foundation had a week that may go down as a very important stepping stone for the organization as it continues to spread awareness about autism and anti-bullying! Below is the week in review…..

Sunday-My family went and had supper with a great family that is sending their daughter to “Operation Shine”. It was so nice to meet her and the entire family! Our kids had a blast as they rode a tractor, fed goats, made s’mores and other fun activities!

Monday-The foundation prepared for the next two days of visiting schools by organizing information and printing off marketing material for the camp.

Tuesday-The pace picked up for the week. We started our journey with Rick Shaw from Awareity!

10:45 am-We had an interview with Josh Moody from the Kearney Hub about the foundation and our upcoming camp!

1:45 pm-The foundation and Rick Shaw speaks with the 4-8 grades at Shelton Public Schools about bullying and doing the right thing. The “Friend of the Foundation” Award was presented to the 4th grade. Great group of kids!

2:45 pm-Our talk continues with Shelton Public as we spoke with the 9-12 grades. Another award was presented to Nadia Pinon for her incredible act of kindness and character at a track meet earlier this year.

4:15 pm-We had another interview with John from the Hasting Tribune about the foundation and our upcoming camp! Starting to get some great publicity about the camp!!!

Wednesday-The foundation and Rick headed to Superior and Sandy Creek Public Schools for the day!                

10:15 am-We spoke with Rick to the 4-8 grades at Superior Public Schools. We are                honored to  present another “Friend of the Foundation” Award to Taran Zoltenko. He made an impression on us at our outing in February. Continuing to recognize kids doing the right thing and having a positive attitude!

11:00 am-We surprise Rick by having his parents show up and listen to him speak for the FIRST time. It was so great to see his reaction and we were honored to line that up for both him and his parents!

11:15 am-We continue our talk at Superior by speaking with the 9-12 grades. We were very impressed with the questions and interaction with all the Superior students. Plus, we handed out a large number of volunteer forms for our camp. Excellent morning!

12:15 pm-The caravan loads up and heads to Sandy Creek Public Schools.

1:00 pm-We continue our presentations by talking with the Sandy Creek 9-12 grades.

2:00 pm-Our second session of the afternoon is with the 2-5 grades. They were very interactive with great questions. We loved their reaction to a short highlight video on Jason McElwain that we were able to show at the school with their video board. They loved it!!

3:00 pm-The last session was with the 6-8 grades. It was a great way to cap off our two day, three school tour about bullying. We hope the schools and the students took away some valuable information from the presentations. We want to thank Rick Shaw so much for his time and help with this. The foundation was proud of our first efforts getting into the schools and spreading our mission! Hope to continue that next school year.

Thursday-After being on the road all day Tuesday and Wednesday, it was time for the foundation to have another “Operation Shine” Camp Committee meeting and board meeting starting at 6:00 pm. We got a ton accomplished and feel we are putting the right things in place to have a camp that will be an incredible experience for the kids and volunteers.

Friday-The foundation gets some air time! Joan Schwan, Camp Director, and I go on NTV’s Good Life to talk about the foundation and our upcoming camp at about 9:30 am. We want to thank Carol Staab and NTV for having us! We were so happy to be able to spread the word!

  10:05 am-As I am walking out of the NTV studios after our interview, we receive a call                     from a parent that wants to send their child to the camp! She had just seen us on television. Mission accomplished!

1:00 pm-We meet with a possible donor for the camp and our Autism Conference in October!

6:00 pm-Team Bly loads up and heads to Omaha for the annual Autism Walk on Saturday!

Saturday-The Kearney Hub publishes an article about the foundation and our camp! We receive a few emails about individuals wanting to volunteer! Again, getting some great publicity and people responding to help us at the camp. Mission accomplished!

That same day, Team Bly attends the Omaha Autism Walk and has a blast. We are rocking the “Knock’Em Down for Trae” Bowling shirts in honor of my son! Over the past several months he has wanted to wear only long sleeve shirts because he feels more relaxed and calm in them. Well, today, he only needs his bowling shirt! He loves it and we are so happy. He did AMAZING all day long. To celebrate the walk, we went to The Amazing Pizza Machine, went to the hotel and went swimming for a few hours and even went out to eat as a family! A huge day of events and sensory overload for Trae, BUT he handled it great and had a blast!

The trip to Omaha was an AWESOME way to cap off a week I will always remember for the foundation as we continued to spread awareness about autism and anti-bullying! The job is in no way close to being done…..bring on this week!

Due to our busy week, I have not had a chance to post about any more individuals with autism that have done great things. Today, I want to introduce you to James Durbin! He was a finalist on Season 10 of American Idol.

James released a single called “Parachute” and was first diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and Tourette syndrome at the age of 10. James states “Right around the time when I was diagnosed, I got a hand-me-down guitar with a chord book and a cheap busted tuner. I think music is like medicine and can be a benefit for anyone no matter what genre. There’s just so much you can learn. It’s all about focus and for me, not only on the Autism spectrum but also the Tourette’s spectrum, focus was something I needed help with. Music is my focus.”

Music was also a way for him to deal with bullying growing up. He said “Throughout this process, I figured out that no matter how bad of a day I had at school, I could come home and create my own world within the music. I could make the music as happy or sad as I wanted it to be. I used the pain from being bullied to transform me into who I was meant to be.”

What a great story about working on being focused and passionate about something and then going for it! Our goal at the foundation continues to be to help children and families find that focus and help each child reach their full potential in life! Just like James did, we continue to “DREAM BIG!”

Links used for the story above include:

#autism #awareness #dreambig #kidsanddreams #500forautism