|Coronado Springs Resort Hotel|
Saturday dawned with all of us confronting basic life support while marooned on the Aruba Resort at Disney World.
We needed to all be awake, showered, dressed, at the conference center at Coronado Springs Resort and fed by 8:15 AM, a challenge for any group of 17 people.
We presented ourselves all scrubbed and shining at the shuttle that would take us to the conference, and it arrived promptly, to our great relief.
Breakfast was an expensive and challenging affair, as the facilities were way overloaded, in addition to being way overpriced for what we got. Nonetheless, we persevered and sorted ourselves into our various workshops for the morning.
|Jerry and little friend|
The National Down Syndrome Congress people had done a great job of organizing the presenters, workshops, and Youth and Adults Conference. The problem was strictly the venue–it's just not good for a convention of this sort. My heart went out to all the young families with little ones shlepping strollers and diaper bags all over (the Magic) kingdom come.
Saturday evening came and the Ranchers were planning to go to the Dance, which is a big deal indeed! Marci had made reservations at a place “not too far” from Coronado Springs.
Well, as Einstein said, it's all relative, and “not too far” turned out to be two bus connections away. By the time dinner was done, so were most of the Ranchers, ready to go back to Aruba and hit the sack. A few still wanted to go, even though there was not enough time to go back to the room and change into party clothes. The staff split up and some took the five party-goers to the dance and the others went back to their rooms.
Despite everything, however, I have to say that our gang came through it all with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. For all the discomfort, ruptured routines, and inconvenience they endured there was little to no grumbling or grousing. So little, in fact, that a lady sharing the interminable wait for the Saturday night bus emailed me (Casey had given her a card) to say the following:
Early Saturday evening, I was waiting with your group at a bus stop in Aruba. We waited SO long for our bus to Downtown Disney and our bus just wasn’t coming.
I want to commend your group for never losing patience (I had about had it) and for keeping their cool in what felt like a million degree weather.
The staff members that were with them were amazing and the whole group gave me much hope for my now 8 year old daughter’s future.
You know what? That note made everything we'd been through more than worthwhile. That is what we had in mind when we set out to build Down Home Ranch. We'd dreamed of a community that was enthusiastic, resiliant, loving, and dedicated.
One that could give hope to a mom with a little girl with an extra chromosome.
So thank you Sterling, Kelly, Kyle, Mark, Mike, Matt, Alaina, Kara, Julia, Travis, and Kristen! You are the wind beneath our wings. Enjoy the photo gallery below.
Mike, Sterling, Kelly & Kristen at Austin airport prior to departure
Alaina & Kyle on the plane to Orlando
On the air trans shuttle at the Orlando airport
Travis, Sterling, & Kyle waiting for ground transportation, Orlando
Phil, Kara, & Julia en route to hotel at Disney World
Aruba Resort, where we stayed
Mike & Travis waiting at pool before going to Hollywood Studio Park
Hollywood Studio Park, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
Our gang on steps of street in Main Streets area of Hollywood Studio, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL