|Photo credit goes to Angus Lamond, the photographer on the Ace & TJ's Grin Kids Trip 2011|
Although we did not stay together as a group all day, everyday - it would be impossible with over 100 people - it was great to see another family on a ride or share a spot on the parade route. Our common denominator, raising a child with special needs, was a good conversation starter, and lead us to other topics, like our work, family life and outside interests.
It was a relief when, as a group on the plane, bus or restaurant, and Ben was yelling or making loud noises, that not one person was looking at us in a way that said, "Could you please quiet that child?" We were all in the same boat and understanding and patience were plentiful. Judgement was not.
If you have ever gone on a retreat or been part of something large, it is hard not to form a special bond with the other people with you. The Grin Kids Family, for which we are now a part of, is large - 12 years worth of trips. Families from past trips did several special things for us - an embroidered Disney bag with our family name on it, a refillable Disney cup and countless other gifts that made the trip even more special knowing that people were thinking about us.
The gifts were beautiful, but the person who made the most impression on me was the woman, who welcomed us at the Charlotte airport. She was a Grin Kid on one of the very first trips. Obviously, the family bond is strong. The experience never forgotten.