October 1 is the start of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to show the world the awesomeness and abilities of kids with DS. One family has received the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation Buddy Walk Recognition Award for doing just that, in a very unique way.
Alan Lawrence, his wife Nikki, and their six kids live in the small farming community of Paradise, Utah. Their fifth child, William (who they call Wil), was born with Down syndrome in 2013. At first, like many parents of kids with special needs, the couple was scared and didn't know what to expect. Eventually his photographer dad started creating composite photos of Wil "flying" in different settings, sharing them on his blog, That Dad Blog, and on Instagram. The photos became the Wil Can Fly series.
There's Wil flying up to see bubbles being blown by his siblings! There's Wil flying high to pick apples! There's Wil flying near the Golden Gate Bridge!
The photos are adorable, captivating, memorable, and inspiring. As Lawrence has said, "We realize Wil is still young, but we know that even though he has Down syndrome it doesn't mean he is limited, he will be able to do anything he puts his mind to. Wil can fly!"
The Lawrences accepted their award as part of their local annual Buddy Walk event (happening around the country), where they sold "Wil Can Fly" photos and calendars created with funding from a Kickstarter campaign they launched last spring; half of the proceeds will go to two Down syndrome foundations.
Oh, yes, Wil can fly. Oh, yes, our children can fly.
Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.