Yesterday, we were interviewed by actor Adrian Paul from the Peacefund which has a program on LATalkRadio.com. Hailey answered questions about Livy, Livy's Hope's recognition in Peacejam's One Billion Acts of Peace and the Livy's Hope Kids Crew. The Peacefund named Hailey and Livy their Heroes of the Week back in November and wanted to have us on the show to discuss everything we are doing.
It is amazing to see Hailey at nine years old talking about topics that are well beyond her years. She seems like an old pro and always seems to impress us. Just when we think she may falter, she turns on her charm and puts on a display.
Adrian asked me a few questions and two really stuck out. What have we learned from our girls over the last nine years and what would I tell parents who are also caring for children with special needs? These are two incredibly relevant questions and really hit home when we consider what Livy's Hope is all about.
My answer was that each of the girls has taught us something different but equally important. Livy has taught us to never give up hope. She loves life and smiles every day despite her disabilities and all she has endured. She teaches us not to worry about the little things. Hailey has been an example of complete acceptance. She treats people with equal respect and loves them for who they are. She is willing to give everything she has to help others.
My advice to parents who are raising kids with special needs was to never give up. Look online for resources. Reach out to other parents who are going through or who have been through a similar situation. Find a hobby to take your mind off of the daily routine. And give back as much as possible.
The Livy's Hope tagline is "Don't Give Up. Give Back." It is more than a slogan. It is what we live and breath every day. And to think that nine years ago, we had no idea what it truly meant. If you asked me the significance of those phrases then, I would have thought about playing a sport and trying my hardest or perhaps donating a dollar at the check out of a grocery store. My girls have completely changed my mentality.
So to add to my answers, I would say that my girls have given me a new purpose. There are many ups and downs and it is a complete emotional roller coaster. As hard as it can be, it is a life changing experience that gives perspective and meaning. Not giving up hope now means I will never give up on Livy. I will do everything to make sure she is cared for and that she is allowed to reach her potential. I will never stop trying to find a cure for epilepsy. Giving back means helping a family that can not afford equipment that allows their daughter to be mobile. It means raising money for epilepsy research that can give people hope for a cure. It means teaching children that working together for a common goal can make a tremendous difference in the community. My daughters have taught me many life lessons that I never knew before.
My advice to parents...use what you learn to help others. Love your children with all or your heart regardless of how hard life may seem because of their disabilities. Open your heart to the lessons you can learn. Accept what you have been given. Your child is a gift. You will be tested and pushed to your limit. But you will grow in character far beyond your wildest dreams. And never, ever give up on your child, yourself or your family.