It's been a remarkable 15 years since the very first No More Sidelines Gala. All those years ago, Cyndi Blair came along and asked if Dave Kaechele and I would consider being the emcee's for the event, and bewlidered....as to why anyone would ask, they agreed. It was a bit of an unexpected request to get a couple of clowns who pick on each other on the radio to emcee an event the size of what No More Sidelines was promising, but...let's give it a try. It was the beginning of a relationship that has grown, endured and assured that kids in Muskegon never have to feel like an outsider.
When Alivia Blair was in her mid teens, she couldn't figure out why she didn't have friends like her brothers and sister did. Her mom, Cyndi Blair tried to give it a think and really couldn't come up with a reason. Autism shouldn't define a life, so....let's find a way to make some friends. A small original core of families began with social stuff and sports, and from there, it's grown. Not only to include the social and athletic endeavors, but cooking, acting, support among participants and mostly, in showing others that what makes people different isn't really a frightening thing, in fact, if you give yourself the opportunity, you'll find in short order that it's one of the most life fulfilling things.
If it's Autism, Downs or a physical limitation the kids....are kids. Friendships have been formed, talents have been found and what was once a group of kids "down that one hall", they are now quite often right in there with the others and the reward is the unconditional love that they share with those willing to try. Learning from the families and kids in No More Sidelines, helped prepare me for what life had to come when we had a granddaughter born with a rare genetic disorder called CACNA1a. Different, but it's in her differences that we're reminded daily that without her, we'd be pretty empty. It's been a road paved by many that made me the geepa I am today.
So, on to the gala! Let's party on Saturday night! Strolling cuisine, delightful music, live and silent auctions going on with opportunities to bid on trips, tools, baskets and experiences. Dave Kaechele will return to enjoy the evening's festivities with us and of course the purpose behind it all is to secure the funding needed to keep the costs for the kids and families of No More Sidelines free or low as possible.
Cyndi is the Interim Director of Health West now, and we met up at her office to talk about this year, and years gone by. Take a listen. Call (231) 332-3849 to get tickets in advance for Saturday night.
We're thankful to continue to be a part of No More Sidelines and the work they do for kids and families and to see how one mom's dream has reached into the lives of so many. The enrichment of companionship alone has been a remarkably big gain and then to see the additional things come along like The Penguin Project, where the kids get to act at the Frauenthal Theater to the sprting events and mostly...the minds of those who "wondered"....how they have changed. I have often said that Muskegon is a town of miracles.....one of which continues to unfold in front of us with No More Sidelines.