Special Needs Awareness and Advocacy 

Last weekend, the girls, my partner Leonard and myself embarked on a round trip 1120 mile long overdue road trip in the newly converted wheelchair accessible van to Suffolk Virginia.  I was nominated by Mrs. Edwina Wilson, CEO of Kelly’s Choice Cares, to receive a caregiver’s award at her 6th annual Caregivers Gala. I had never been to Suffolk and it had been many years since I’ve been on a road trip, so I happily agreed and began making plans.

I was told that my vehicle would not be shipped back to Ohio in time, so I rented a van and would have to take my daughter in her manual wheelchair, which would make more work for me lifting her in and out of the vehicle along with the chair, but I was ready for the nine hour trip.

Kelly’s Choice Cares is based out of Suffolk and is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “support and recognize caregivers, the differently abled/disability community and their loved ones through networking, advocacy, and education.”  Their goal is to “provide outlets to help caregiver’s and the differently abled to know they are not alone.”

My daughter, Dominique, met Mrs. Wilson through social media and they began a fast friendship.  Dominique is very social, loves meeting people and her gift is advocacy and helping others.  Mrs. Wilson also does an internet radio show that Dominique would watch regularly and in turn, Mrs. Wilson began following her on her social media pages and introducing her to some of her friends and followers.  The three of us were also guests on her show.

About a week before we were to leave, I received a call that my van was ready and on it’s way back to Cleveland, three weeks early.  We were so excited to be able to go on the trip in the van and that Dominique could take her power chair, and no lifting for me.

We packed up and left early on a Friday morning and arrived at our hotel that evening.  Ordered dinner in and all fell asleep early.  We had perfect weather, and the drive was great.  I didn’t realize we had to go through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel which was exciting and scary at the same time, I couldn’t figure out what was holding it up in all that water!

We had breakfast Saturday morning and relaxed until it was time for the Gala, it was such a coincidence that the venue was right next door to our hotel, in walking distance.  As you entered, there was a purple carpet runway with pictures, and vendors and we were escorted to our seats.  The tables were decorated beautifully in purple and silver, and a stage area, that had a wheelchair ramp.  There was a table with a purple decorated cake. We had a meal of Salmon, roast beef, cabbage, salad rolls.

There were several speakers, a comedian, and actress Cee Cee Michaela from the TV show Girlfriends, who spoke to us about the importance of self-care and what we put in our bodies and use on our skin.  She had a table with all of her self-care products.


The awards were presented to all of the caregivers and parents and we all had the opportunity to speak and share our.  The award was a clear butterfly with your name engraved in purple.  It was wonderful to be among my peers who share some of the same triumphs and struggles as I do.

gala 2

We mixed and mingled and Dominique got to meet some of her friends she talks to on her social media pages, she introduced me to so many people.  We got to meet Mrs. Wilson, her husband Quarry, and her daughter Kelly.

We headed out early Sunday morning and had a nice ride back home, all along singing and talking about all our new friends.  Dominique was beside herself and that pretty much is all that mattered!