I don't get out much.
Last time I flew alone, Bobby was in my womb.
22 years ago.
A lifetime ago.
I've flown since, but let's say those trips were nightmarish
and leave it at that.
I'm a homebody at heart.
But I was asked to go.
And I said yes.
How appropriate that the theme of the conference was
I went to the Autism Speaks Volunteer Leadership Conference.
And I met 250 incredible people.
Well, not all of them, but a lot.
I made some great friends.
I cried. A lot.
And I learned a lot.
I sat with people from all over the country.
With different beliefs but one common goal:
improving the lives of people with autism
and their families.
My Autism Speaks folder says three things:
I stood on the stage and accepted an award with fellow West Texas volunteers
and our wonderful staff member who has become my friend.
I spoke words off-the-cuff to the audience that I barely remember,
but that I know were about how my children had changed me and all for the better.
I didn't see much of Philadelphia,
but that conference was all about brotherly love.
It was about making the world a better place,
about creating local communities,
about Autism Speaks being of service at the local level.
About housing and job training for adults on the spectrum.
About education and toolkits to arm parents and professionals
with the knowledge they need.
About events that give families a sense of community
and the assurance that they are never alone.
About fighting for legislation that helps with services, with research for treatments.
It was about family.
Our local walk here next year will have an autistic adult on the committee: Bobby.
It will also have my father.
Three generations will sit on one committee.
Every event we go to, these three generations have volunteered.
We are all connected on this journey,
and we share a common goal:
making the world a better place
for our loved ones
and helping them achieve their milestones.
Even when those milestones are not the traditional ones.
the view from my room
looking up, way up, at the base of the hotel
interesting choice for a monument.
at the base of the monument
the hotel rising
I know that our community, too, will rise above,
will stand towering.
We're going to change the world.
And not just for our children.