Look at what we just got in the mail.
That's right ... Manny is now the 2014 Florida GoodWill Ambassador for the MDA.
What does this mean?
Well ... MDA is "Muscular Dystrophy Association". They help people with Neuromuscular Disorders. (You might want to read "Mighty Manny" if you're not sure what that means.)
For 2013, he was the honorary local Goodwill Ambassador and he was asked to represent the MDA at local events and such.
Like last year, we had a walk at Raymond James Stadium. When we were at the walk, I had never been so aware of my legs. Someone asked why I walk and it hit me ... I walk because some people can't.
Here's a picture of our team from last year's walk.
Come join us on February 8, 2014 at Raymond James Stadium for this year's Muscle Walk. You can walk along with Mr. Ambassador!
This is to raise funds and raise awareness. Did you know the funds raised in the local area stay in the local area?
The funds raised from the walk are earmarked for various things like sending the local kids to the summer camp. It's a week where kids can just be kids and they say, "it's the best week of their lives". Manny isn't old enough to attend yet (age 6) but he has attended the sponsors/visitors day for the past two years. It's a carnival like atmosphere and he just loves it.
Here's a picture from the 2013 camp. Yes, I was very focused. He couldn't stop laughing when they all fell down!
The visitor day happened to fall on his 4th birthday. We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate his special day than with our friends. When we drove up, he saw all the balloons and carnival booths and he thought the party was for him. (No one had the heart to tell him otherwise.)
Lowe's comes and supports the camp by helping the kids make floats for a parade. They created a birthday cake float for Manny with 4 candles. Have you ever seen a cuter cake?
Every year, Lowe's is also a huge supporter for the MDA. They sell shamrocks in their local stores. We visited our local Lowes and were shocked to find the word "MANNY" written in Shamrocks. It seems they used him as an inspiration for the employees to remember to sell the shamrocks. Click here to read more about the Lowe's Shamrock MDA Program
And remember how he got to go to a firestation this summer? Well, firefighters and the MDA have a special relationship. The IAFF (Firefighter's Association) is the MDA's biggest fundraiser. They stand on street corners doing a boot drive collecting money.
Or locally, they put on a "Chili Blaze" where they have a huge blow out with vendors and bands and huge crowds. All proceeds go to the MDA. They collect tens of thousands of dollars each year. So if you're local ... come out and see us on March 14. Pinellas Park.
There was the fun night at the "Show of Strength" (Formerly the Telethon) premiere.
We even were highlighted in the MDA Quest magazine. Quest Vol. 20, No. 1 (From January 1, 2013 - March 31, 2013). An article was done about our family. Imagine our surprise to find ourselves as the COVER. You can go to this link to see more about the Quest magazine and links to their online issues.
Here is a picture from the 2013 Holiday Party with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Who knows what other cool events he will be asked to attend as the 2014 Florida GoodWill Ambassador. But he's always up for a fun day. (And they usually ask me to say a few words since I don't mind speaking in public.)
But what has the MDA done for us personally? The local team has helped us get wheelchairs and other equipment. They have invited us to fun events and parties. They have set us up with specialists, including some across the state when the ones locally ran out of ideas. And they have become our friends.
The MDA supports our whole family. They recognize that while Manny is the only one in our family who has Muscular Dystrophy, our whole family is affected by it. So they support the whole family.
I'm thrilled and honored that Manny was selected to be the 2014 Florida GoodWill Ambassador. We will do our best to represent the MDA well.
Just for fun, I thought I'd show you a picture of Manny and Paula (with the MDA) on our very first walk in 2012. He had just been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and this was our first event. We knew we were "home".
Their slogan is "Make a Muscle, Make a Difference". And we know Manny will continue to do just that. He already has for so many. Way to Go, Mighty Manny. I mean, Mr. Ambassador.
*Make sure to follow the links to learn more about these amazing organizations and events.