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I have one section in my jewelry box that is full of awareness bracelets. I’ve gathered them along the way….events at school, walks I’ve participated in, 5K’s that handed them out as part of a goody bag, and causes that are near and dear to my heart. You can typically find two, sometimes three, on my arm on any given day. Those are the ones that mean the most – the ones showing those missions our family is affected by, and then one recognizing the most beautiful son of a friend I met through one of those organizations.

Yesterday, I spent a long day flying up to Sacramento to lobby for the March of Dimes at the Capitol.  Seriously, the alarm went off at 3:30am for a 6:20 flight. We spent the first few hours in session, learning about the two objectives we would be presenting in our prospective meetings.  Lunch followed, during which we met with our teams to plan our presentations. Lastly, we spent two hours meeting with Assembly members or Senators (read – their staff people). I had the opportunity to share Big Man’s story.

Neither of the two legislative pieces we were talking about directly affect me, but I believe in the work of the March of Dimes. It’s never hard to talk about ways to help moms and babies be healthy. I take on the advocacy role because I will do what I can to help reach the day no parent has to experience the nightmare we experienced, nor anything like it, much less anything worse. So yeah, I’ll advocate even if it’s something that doesn’t directly speak to prematurity, NICU’s, or prenatal health.  I feel a responsibility to say yes when asked to help out, volunteer. They directly affected the outcome of Big Man’s life. How do you say thank you for that except to continue to volunteer?

That being said, I wasn’t ready in the NICU nor right out of the NICU to jump on this bus. I think that’s why, although I wear an autism bracelet, I haven’t stepped out to advocate for autism in general, although I advocate for my little guy every day. There’s a process involved for most people. I think you reach the advocacy stage when you’re ready to give back. For some reason, that’s harder for me with autism than prematurity. I’m just not there yet. Will I get there? I hope so, because there are an awful lot of people who have helped us along the way the last few years.

That third bracelet? It’s for Kyle. When I see it, I am inspired. Wearing it makes me want to pay it forward.  It makes me braver. It makes me sad at the same time it makes me smile. I see his face when it’s on my arm. It makes me keep going even when the day is hard.

What awareness bracelets do you wear, if any? Do you advocate or volunteer?

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