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Chapter 29


March is a busy time for me. Basketball overlaps with soccer, baseball and softball, so it feels like I am sitting in a gym or on the field six days a week covering some sort of game. College basketball’s annual tournament known as “March Madness” tips off this month, but I feel the term could be used to describe just how hectic life is during this 30 day period.

As busy as I am, there is still plenty of time to acknowledge Disability Awareness Month. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan designated March to raise “Public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities” and to provide the “Encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

We have come a long way in the past 37 years with the Americans With Disabilities Act and many other programs and pieces of legislation. We still have a long way to go, however, so I think it is appropriate that we acknowledge disability awareness in March because we are marching toward progress.  

My Chesapeake Bay Retriever Gabe is nearly two and half years old and has made so much progress since he came to live with me at the age of eight weeks. But like disability awareness, he still has a long way to go. The perfect example happened the other day when we took him to the vet for his annual wellness visit. You see, Gabe does not leave the farm very often and while he likes to go for rides on the golf cart, they are always on our property and not the highway in a car.

Once in the van, trouble began. Every time Gabe saw a car, he wanted to chase it. He would bark and run from the back of the van to the front. Chessies are most closely related in temperament to Huskies. Both breeds are very talkative, and stubborn, and boy can they pull. I have often wondered if Gabe could have been trained to be a service dog but then I see videos of Chessies failing puppy training classes and realize that it is a good thing we did not try. As with most Chessies, Gabe will follow commands 90 percent of the time, but the other 10 percent, his stubborn streak kicks in and he does what he wants no matter what you say. We went through a whole bag of Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats trying to get him to calm down on the way to the vet. Once we got inside the vet’s office, Gabe was the perfect gentleman. In fact, the vet told me he was the best patient she had seen all day.

Sometimes it is uncanny how much Gabe and I are alike. We are stubborn and don’t like to be told what we can and cannot do. If I had listened to the people who said I could not do something because of my disability, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to the help of my family, I am doing exactly what I feel God created me to do: Sharing stories of people’s successes and sometimes their failures both in athletics and life in general. 90 percent of the time I am happy with my life in spite of my disability, but having Cerebral Palsy is like having a Monster just under the surface waiting to strike. I like what rapper Eminem says: “I’m friends with the Monster that’s under my bed”. That means, for the most part, I have made peace with my CP.

10 percent of the time I throw myself a pity party, however. I focus on what I can’t do instead of all of my blessings. Sadly, unlike Gabe, I can not eat Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats to cheer me up. I have to opt for a much less healthy option of a Debbie Cake or Twinkie.

After a few hugs from Gabe, complete with licks on the ear, the Monster once again sinks below the surface and I continue living life to its fullest with my four-legged best buddy. I long for the day when those of us with disabilities will not have to deal with the Monster. I think that will happen the day that Gabe behaves 100 percent of the time. In other words, NEVER! Disabilities are ever present but thanks to events like Disability Awareness Month, the Monster is becoming less scary every day.

Another way to help tame the Monster is by showing support for Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats through the Seed20 initiative. Social Venture Partners (SVP) of Charlotte is sponsoring the event and they are an organization that is, “dedicated to driving social change and innovation in our community”. Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats is a finalist for the People’s Choice Award, so your support is invaluable.

Co-Founder Talia Wucherer will be giving a short on-stage presentation on March 26th at Central Piedmont Community College. Tickets are available for purchase now. If you can’t make it in person, you can live stream the event or host a watch party. No matter how you choose to participate, the more people involved, the better for Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats and their mission of:  Creating Career Development and work access so people with Intellectual and  Developmental Disabilities can showcase their talents.

For more information on Seed20, please visit SEED20 | Arins Dog Treats . Help us March Toward Progress!

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