We had a great morning at the AutismOklahoma PieceWalk & 5k honoring our little buddy, Austin!!
But first, let me back up a little bit and tell you about another amazing human being.
My sister, Gaust Ama AKA "Michelle" was selling some of my nieces' toys when she found out the buyer taught in an enhanced autism classroom. She donated the items as a way of spreading The Caleb Effect, and probably didn't think twice about ever hearing from the sweet teacher again.
They say actions speak louder than words, and if you Googled "thoughtful woman of action," Maria Casado's picture should appear from now on!
After receiving the toys, she and her kids put together bags of vroom vrooms in Caleb's honor and donated them for children at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, but she didn't stop there.
While out shopping she replaced a bag of candy that was already in her cart in order to purchase more vroom vrooms. Then, she bought $20 worth of vroom vrooms to honor victims of the OKC bombing during our Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon project last weekend. If that wasn't already enough, her kids found out that only four names were left on the lists they chose and what did they do? "My boys felt bad that 4 people were left off so they took $2 each from their wallets." 😲
Do you think I'm finished with their random acts of kindness to a person they have never met and who lives 1,300 miles away?
I received the attached letter along with two beautiful bracelets (again each item chosen with an enormous amount of care).
Today, after leaving the Piece Walk, I went to the post office to pick up a package. What did I see? Another kind envelope from Maria. This time it included lots of little Caleb Effect tags that we will be using to spread Caleb's love. WOW!
If ALL of these things weren't already enough to absolutely make our jaws drop and cry knowing The Caleb Effect really is spreading, Maria bought a globe for her class and they are now tracking all of the places in the world (all 50 states and 69 countries if you are curious) where The Caleb Effect has been!!
Maria, we only intended to come to the Piece Walk, hand out a few vroom vrooms and support our friend, Austin and his family, but you made today an even more special event. The kids loved handing out the vroom vrooms, and Austin's mom, Renee Hays said to tell you that she is never taking the bracelet off!
Austin's dad, Rob Brian, also shared this:
"I want to thank everyone who made today possible. Whether you bought a T-shirt, stopped by for the garage sale, donated to our team (Keep Austin Weird), sent words of encouragement, or quietly prayed or sent positive thoughts our way, thank you from Renee and I.
People ask us how do we handle all of this every day. The answer is we just do. We don’t have a choice. What makes it easier is all of you. Your love and support is what gives us the positive energy to stay strong.
Today was clearly evident of that. There was a record number of people at the Piecewalk today. The energy and love that enveloped the event was so incredible. It reminds us that we are not alone in this. That Austin is not alone. That being weird is not a bad thing, but just the opposite.
Being weird is awesome. Being unique is a good thing. The Piecewalk is an event where weird and unique individuals are celebrated for who they are, not defined by how they act or look.
Thank you to everyone who participated today. Austin may not come up to you and say thank you, but I promise you today meant a lot to him. It meant even more to Renee and I."
Ken Toey (Adam) and I bought t-shirts and made a donation today in honor of Austin, your students, a special boy in Colorado, and all of those who are impacted by autism. Weird is the new awesome and we are so glad we had a chance to be a part of this incredible event!
Thank you for heeding the call to be nice and for sharing Caleb with the world.
(Also, we already heard back from one of the vroom vroom recipients today.)