As we continue to spread awareness about autism and get close to the end of April and Autism Awareness Month, it got me to thinking. I know, I know….that can be a dangerous thing. Our mission is to help provide support to children and families experiencing autism and bullying, BUT it is much more than that! We want to be the glimmer of light for those children and families that are having a real tough time with the issues in their lives and are struggling to stay positive and realize there is HOPE!

I have thought of two stories I would like to share with you in relation to some of these thoughts. The first story is in no way related to the seriousness of what families that are experience autism and bullying are going through, but it really opened my eyes to not listen to the negative talk of others. I was a freshmen at Spalding Public Schools. We had just moved to town that year. My dream since I was five was to play in the State Basketball Tournament. The same one that my dad and I would go to every year since I could walk. Our basketball season (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I love sports and have my dad to thank for that passion!) was not going real well. We were 5-8 going into districts. We played a lot of close games during the year and peaked during districts, winning three in a row and became district CHAMPS!!! I was fortunate enough to be able to start at point guard as a freshmen and had a great group of guys to play with. My DREAM was coming true…we were headed to STATE! I was beyond excited.

The first round we play Wallace, a team that was like 18-2 or something. We were huge underdogs. We won by about 20 and the dream continued. It was AWESOME! One of the smallest schools in the state at that time was in the semifinals. The next game we played Hildreth. All I remember about that game was they were an older team (we started 1 senior, 1 junior, 2 sophomores and myself) and big! We played hard, but came up short. We lost by about 20……I would say the dream ended, but really it was an incredible experience!

Now to the point of the story……as I was being replaced late in that game I headed to our bench. As I approached our coach, I heard a fan scream, “Bly, you stink (may have used worse words J), get off the floor!” I have played in numerous games and I am sure other fans yelled stuff at me when I didn’t play well. Yet, this is the ONLY situation that I remember one of my own fans yelling at me that stood out that much (it’s been over 25 years ago). I could have let that destroy my focus, attitude and desire to become a better player, but my dad continued to teach me not to worry what others are saying and DO MY BEST! That fueled my fire and helped me work harder so to whoever said that at the Pershing Center in 1988…thank you! However, that is not the case in some situations. As a parent now, it reminds me that we need to build up our kids, be positive with them and when they find something they love and are passionate about….tell them to DREAM BIG!

The second story has to do with my son Trae. Many of you know that he didn’t walk or talk until he was 2 ½ years old. He had many doctor’s appointments and other issues that we have worked through and are working on. Several years ago, we had a doctor tell us that “Trae was the way he was” and we would just have to be okay with that! Ummm…..NO! We were not fine with that comment and found a new doctor shortly after that appointment. Plus, we started researching and finding resources that could help our son progress and start developing more. He has come so far!! If we would have listened to that doctor who knows where Trae would be at socially, academically and physically. I know one thing….he wouldn’t be as far along as he is today! We had and still have goals and dreams for Trae and all four of our other children. We want them to be happy, find something they are passionate about and do their best to reach their goals & dreams! The “DREAM BIG” motto is special to me because of my family. The Kids & Dreams Foundation and helping others reach their dreams is just icing on the cake!

The purpose of this post is to see if you will join us in believing in yourself, BE POSITIVE…then pass that on to your children or others around you just like my parents have done for me as I grew up! It is easy to be negative, but staying positive takes some work and is SO rewarding when you help others!! I truly believe that families need to know that there is always hope and anything can happen. The foundation is in place to help these families try to find that hope and any resources or options that will help see their child progress and reach their full potential in life!

I want to finish by introducing you to another individual that has done great things after being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in the third grade. Her name is Sarah Lonsert. She became the youngest songwriter to win the USA Songwriter Competition in 2009 at the age of 17. After winning that award, she released her own album, acted on stage and in films.

Keep believing, have a positive attitude and PASS IT ON!

Link used for the story above is

#dreambig #believe #autism #awareness #kidsanddreams #staypositive