When I first started State of Kind to help raise awareness for 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, I figured it was something I would be able to do in maybe a year, two years tops. What I've found is that the combination of caring for a child with 22q, work, and life in general has made me have to re-evaluate the time frame in which I will pull this off (which I think is for the better). Since my last update, however, Cohen has had many inchstones (what my wife and I call his milestones). He no longer requires oxygen 24/7, he's crawling all around our house (and even attempting to stand on his own), and he knows so many sign language words, it's hard to keep count. Cohen said "Mama" on Super Bowl Sunday, and "Dada" on Father's Day, so he has somewhat of a flair for the dramatic. While he continues to be fed via a tube in his tummy, he is slowly starting to take things by mouth. All in all, life, albeit hectic, is pretty darn good for our family. Speaking of family, this past weekend, I was able to join my sister down in St. Petersburg, Florida, and while there, we decided to put together State of Kind - Florida!
Since last year, my sister has played in monthly beach volleyball tournaments with a group called the Tampa Bay Beach Bums. They are a group of people who come together to have fun playing the game they love, hang out, and do philanthropy each and every month. I asked my sister if they would be willing to partner for a State of Kind while I was down there, and unsurprisingly, they said "yes." The next step was finding out who we would do the act of kindness for. I did some research on area non-profits and found an incredible group called Alpha House of Tampa. Alpha House's mission is to offer homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children safe housing and the tools they need to become self-sufficient and effective, responsible parents. The goal for this State of Kind would be to hold a drive at the Bums volleyball tournament for items and gift cards that the mothers and children were in need of.
Our day on the beach started at around 11AM, and it was apparent early on that this was going to be an uber successful day of fundraising (I brought a suitcase filled with items and gift cards donated by awesome people back home in Chicago as well). I started out giving a speech about what I was doing and why to the hundred plus people in attendance, and told everyone about Cohen and 22q. Within no time, the tables for collection items were filled, and the Beach Bums committed to donating all proceeds from their raffles to Alpha House. There were numerous times throughout the day that people would ask about 22q, and I was excited at the opportunity to spread the word. I've never been around a more welcoming group of people, and I was really excited to get to know all of the people that my sister has been raving about for so long. I was happily able to meet Stacey from Alpha House when she collected the items (she also seemed like she might look to join the Beach Bums for a future tournament). The only drawback to the weekend was that our team didn't advance out of the pool play stage of the tournament, which is alright because it gave us a little extra time to celebrate the success of the State of Kind with Coronas and Fireball.