We are still very much on a high from the night of May 30, 2015. Team Blake came out in droves to help us raise money for Blake's Tobii, and it was so unbelievably and overwhelmingly awesome. It's a night we will never forget. Yet again, Ephesians 3:20 was at the forefront of my mind -- Every aspect of the night was "above and beyond anything we could ask or imagine". Ben and I were speechless pretty much all night. I mean, we spoke (to a ton of people!), but all night we struggled to find the words to express our feelings and our deep thankfulness.
Ben said one of the attendees summed it up best. He was talking to Mike Dotson, a man at our church that we respect very much for his faith and how he lives it out. Ben explained how overwhelmed he was feeling that night-- Ben was grasping for the words to describe it, "humbling", "overwhelmed"... "I just dont know how to describe it." Mike looked at him with a calm smile on his face, patted him on the back, and said, "That's love, man." Yep, that was it. It was LOVE. Deep and selfless love. God's indescribable love, in action, through His people-- and we were the recipients. It was incredible and uber-humbling!
Not a single detail was missed that evening. For weeks, our friends met and painstakinly organized everything: the decor, a cake auction, a silent auction, the food, the setup of tables, etc. (they had a goal for about 100 -150 people and the final count came in at 345!!!--We told Blake afterward that she had more people at her Fish Fry than we had at our wedding!!)
They also made a video of Blake's story to show and organized a couple o f other videos to educate everyone on Rett Syndrome and how the Tobii works. Our friends did it ALL -- all we did was provide some pictures and a voice-over for the video -- they took care of the rest (translation- wouldn't let us help!) and we just got to show up, be loved on and receive a big fat check.
They had a goal of about $10,000 for the evening. The Tobii estimate came in at about $15-17,000. The goal was WELL surpassed, and let's just say we raised enough to buy the Tobii AND cover some of the accessories and training (cuz ain't none of it cheap!) that Blake will need to learn how to use it. INCREDIBLY, OVERWHELMINGLY, ABUNDANTLY more than anything we could ask or imagine!
For those who've been asking, we DO have the Tobii (PRAISE AND HALLELUJAH!) and we have started training Blake on it. I'll have to explain the complexity of the Tobii in a later post. It's definitely a learning curve for everyone -- Blake, Ben, myself and Blake's SLP Stacey. We are all working hard to learn how to use it most effectively! It's like any form of communication - there are building blocks and it takes work, practice and patience. (More to come on Blake's progress)
So, where do we go from here? Well, we are SUPER PUMPED, because we will soon be meeting with a Rett communication specialist. At the end of July, we will fly to Chicago, to begin working with Susan Norwell (and she is planning to come stay with us and work with Blake in our home this December!! Best Christmas ever!!) Susan is a world-renowned Rett Syndrome education and communication specialist and is the brains behind RettUniversity.org. Her passion is to teach girls with Rett Syndrome to read and write and learn like any other little girl or young woman. She is a pioneer in her field and a true innovator for girls with Rett Syndrome! She provides systmeatic training for our girls and BELIEVES in them and their abilities like none other. Praise the Lord for people like Susan!! In Susan's words, "The biggest thing that separates humans from other beings is our ability to read, write and communicate. If we don’t give girls with Rett the tools to do this, we’re willfully taking away their humanity." More on Susan in a future post, but we are so thankful to have the resources to meet with her in person! You guys are making this possible! You are giving Blake a voice -- it gives me chills!!
THANK YOU to everyone who organized, donated and supported Blake's Fish Fry fundraiser. (I hope to list out everyone and thank them publicly, but there were so many, it'll require a whole 'nother post!) God's handprint was all over that night, and so much GOOD came out of it. Your hearts are giving Blake her voice, and"That's love, man!"