The morning started off beautifully. The weather was perfect and everyone was up and dressed and out the door at 8:45 as planned. No misery, except from CC when I tried to get a pre-walk picture but he was hungry so we fixed that with a pit-stop at Dunkin Donuts and he was good to go for the rest of the morning. 🙂 I still managed to sneak a photo of the kids on our way out though.
We got to the walk site and there were already a lot of people milling about. Somehow though, it didn’t FEEL congested or chaotic. There was a calm in the air. Jay is not a big fan of crowds so I was happy that he was holding it together. (But in the back of my mind I knew that even if he started to lose it, it would be ok. We were among “family”. )
After registering, we made our way to a balcony away from the crowds and were able to sit and have a bite to eat and meet up with the rest of our team and hang out before the walk actually started. It was the perfect spot for us. There were a few other families there too but there was more than enough room for us all to move around comfortably. We met a boy who looked to be about 15 who was enjoying a conversation with someone on his team. His Mom told us he didn’t start talking until he was 9. What an inspiration that is to a family like mine. I also met a little boy (about 9) who was staring at the cover of a “Cars” dvd. (My boys newest favourite movie.) Jay went up to him and the 2 of them just stood there looking at the picture for a while. Us parents struck up a conversation about nothing in particular. Just pleasantries, but it was nice. At 1 point, I tried to get a picture of my kiddies but Jay was being his usual self and would give me a big smile but then look away as soon as he saw me pull out the camera. A Dad standing nearby tried to help me out by saying funny things and making funny faces. It didn’t quite work but we got some funny shots during the effort and we all had a good laugh.
My 2 checking out the crowd below.
Then we were off. For just over a mile, throngs of people made their way through the streets of New York. Chatting and taking pictures and 1 step at a time making a better tomorrow for my son. For all our children.
In the middle of the walk, Ace asked me what we were doing here and why. Yikes!!! I haven’t ever told him that Jay has autism. After all Ace is still only 4. I hadn’t quite known how or when to introduce him to it. He just sees Jay as being his baby brother. Someone who needs his help and someone who he loves. No labels, no disorder, just 1 of us. But right there in the middle of thousands of people it felt like the right starting point, so as we held hands and walked, I said “you know how Jay can’t talk, and how he gets angry sometimes? Well, we need to help him to be better and there are lots of other people like him and they need help too. So that’s why we’re here. All these people are walking so we can make Jay better one day.”
I don’t know if he “got” it but it was a start. Another day and another time when it feels right I’ll bring it up again. Or Ace might bring it up again and I’ll be right there to help him understand. For now, what Ace did understand was that we were all there because we love him and we love Jay. All of us together with his Aunty, his Grandma and his beloved Nanas. Who by the way is not another Grandma, it’s actually his babysitter who he loves like cook food (as Jamaicans would say).
At the end of the walk, right there in the middle of the street, Jay put on a show for the people who had come out to walk with us. I
sang croaked If You’re Happy And You Know It and Jay acted it out like a rock star. Everyone applauded and thought it was great. Most of them had never seen him do anything like that before. It felt amazing to be surrounded by all that positive energy.
We had lunch (Nathans Hot Dogs) and then everyone went home … tired.
When all was said and done, The Jay Train raised a total of $1665 for Autism Speaks and we’ll be back next year for sure with our pistons pumping and our boilers busting.