Celebrations are an integral part of family life, but sometimes we are saddened that our children with special needs may miss out on the celebrations of college graduation, starting a career, becoming a bride or groom or having children of their own.
Our Elizabeth was born with a genetic disorder called Galactosemia. It is a rare disease that since 1987 is detected through newborn screening, but in 1977 little was known about it. We were fortunate to have a neonatologist who knew of the disease and essentially saved Elizabeth’s life. She has both physical and intellectual disabilities. Despite the many doctors’ appointments, therapies of all sorts, endless blood tests and many setbacks, Elizabeth is a girl who lives to socialize.
After many family weddings and graduations, we decided to throw a big surprise 30th birthday party for Elizabeth to give her a chance to celebrate a milestone in her life.
Pulling it off was a challenge since she has an amazing ability to hear even the faintest whisper, but Beth’s Birthday Bash came together. Because Dalmatians are her favorite, the theme was set. We rented a room at the local senior center, hired a DJ, decorated with black and white Mylar balloons (the non poppers to keep the fear of sudden loud noises to a minimum), black and white tablecloths, chocolate and vanilla frosted cupcakes, paw print favor boxes and all of her favorite foods.
Family from Seattle to New York, friends and their families from school and camp, guests ranging from one to 83 arrived ready to party. The delight on Elizabeth’s face as each guest came through the door was priceless. Everyone was dancing, laughing, and visiting. Neither age or ability made a difference to anyone there, just a Sunday afternoon of pure joy and celebrating Elizabeth.
Seven years later, we still talk about it, look at the pictures and remember how much this celebration meant to Elizabeth.
We are looking forward to celebrating her Fabulous Forty in 2017!
~Submitted by Mary Lanigan