Every Child Needs A Champion: You Can Call Her Mom! #MOTY

I'm proud to present news about Walmart's Mom of the Year Awards.  A well deserved celebration of Moms.

Nominate a Mom at the Walmart Mom of the Year nomination site today!

"About the Mom of the Year Award:This year Walmart is launching the Mom of the Year Award to help celebrate and recognize the huge contribution moms make as role models and integral members of the family and community. This award will become an annual program to celebrate all that Mom does and shine a light on what is important to her.
Nominations will be accepted Mother’s Day, May 13, through July 8, 2012 and can be submitted through www.momoftheyear.ca/ They can come from daughters, sons, family members, friends, colleagues or community members.
Eight finalists will be selected and notified in mid-August and will be treated to an award celebration weekend in September. The Mom of the Year Award recipient will receive $10,000 for personal use and $100,000 to their cause or charity of choice. The remaining seven finalists will each receive $10,000 for personal use and $10,000 to their cause or charity of choice. Can you imagine the impact you could have on your favourite charity with that much money!"

I know A LOT of Mom's, each one is special in their own way.  When it came to choosing a Mom of the Year, one special woman came to mind.  Katie McCreary's "Forever Family" is an inspiration to me. Along with her husband Brad, Katie adopted 2 special boys with Down Syndrome that also had medical complications. Katie still works as an Infant and Child Development Specialist and volunteers for a charity that provides support for children and Adults with special needs. Approaching life's challenges with humour and a smile, she seems tireless as she balances working, volunteering, and juggling physio therapy and doctors appointments. I had the privilege of being Preschool Teacher to Katie's oldest son for 3 years and am so proud to see the accomplishments that both boys have achieved. I believe that children need a champion-Katie's love and support is evident in the fact that her sons have thrived and are growing in leaps and bounds.  Here is my recent Mom of the Year interview with Katie:

Amy:  Tell me a little about your family- number of children, their ages, about your partner, etc

Katie:  My husband's name is Brad. We have known each other for our entire lives. Our parents were friends and there is six days between my birthday and his. When we were young children I lived just a few doors down the street. We have been married for 8 years this coming August.

Mahdi is 8. He is a fun loving little man. He is definitely the comedian of the family. We adopted him the day before his first birthday. He has always been a laid back little dude. He has a diagnosis of down syndrome. He has such an incredible desire to work hard. He has had major hip surgery when he was 5 and a 1/2, and then a second surgery to the following year to remove the hardware. He has worked so hard putting in countless hours at physio. This year he has climbed a rock wall at his private physio session, he has learned to ride a 2 wheel bicycle with training wheels, and will be starting to play challenge league soccer. He loves looking at animals at the zoo, playing soccer, baking, swimming and rocking out to music. He is incredible with sign language. He has over 200 signs, his speech is coming along with about 50 clear words. Thus year he started reading, he has 50 words he can read and is able to read sentences. It is so awesome to see how proud he is of himself. He wakes up everyday with a smile and can light up a room with his smile and contagious giggle.

Xander will be 6 in June. He is a beautiful little man with a wonderful smile. He joined our family when he was 9 1/2 months old. He has had a few additional challenges in his little life. He has a diagnosis of down syndrome. He has struggled with feeding and weight gain his entire life, he is on a milk and soy free diet due to intolerances. He has hearing loss in both ears and has had hearing aids since he was 17 months. In March 2012 xan was diagnosed with significant vision loss and in may 2012 we were told that he functions as a deafblind child. With all of that he has made huge gains this year. He now signs, more, diaper, mom, dad, milk, all done, my turn. We are working with an orientation and mobility specialist from cnib. Just this week he walked to the park, holding my hand and was able to go up and down the slide by himself. I was one proud mommy. He never ceases to amaze me and he truly is an inspirational little man.

Amy:  What sort of work do you do?

Katie:  I am working full time for The Infant and Child Development Program in Durham Region. I work with families who have children who are at risk for developmental delays. This can be due to extreme prematurity, a diagnosis of a syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, hearing loss, children who are medically fragile. We use a variety of developmental screens to determine areas that may require more practice to help the child reach their fullest potential and help get them ready for school. We provide suggestions to the family to help promote development and strengthen skills. We assist with finding funding and linking with other community agencies. We also see children whose parents may have concerns with how their child is developing. I love what i do. I really feel that I can empathize with the families I work with, I know the challenges that we face are different but I fully believe that our kids can teach us so much, we learn to appreciate the little moments that may be over looked in some families but are huge milestones for our kids. I love sharing the success with the family and be able to provide support an encouragement when things are tough. It is an amazing job, I can't imagine doing anything else.

Amy:  How did you know adoption was the right option for you and Brad?

Katie:  Brad and I talked a great length about adoption and both of us has worked with children, youth and adults with special needs and knew that it would be a good fit for us. Mahdi was such an easy going little guy that we decided that we could our expand our family by one more child. We were comfortable with the needs that came along with each of our boys. We have expectations for our kids to really push independence but are also realistic. We love watching them develop new skills and are proud everyday of them. It was just the right choice for us.

Amy:  I love the term "forever family" describe what it means to you.

Katie:  We use the term forever family because in most families you celebrate the dy the child was born, which we also do, but we celebrate the day that they joined our family, and made us a forever family. It is a nice way to acknowledge adoption and to show them how important they are and how much love they brought to our family. They made us complete when they joined our lives and we just like to take a special day to remember that.

Amy: How do you balance family life and being a working mom?

Katie:  Well I think it is like every other family, it is busy and at time scheduling is tricky. Brad and I have to write everything on the calendar. We don't have a lot of sports that some other families have we have speech, physio, occupational therapy appointments. We always try to keep our weekends fun. We grocery shop as a family, try to go swimming or for a walk down by the lake to throw rocks in the lake. We do the build of the cooking on the weekend so that it just needs to go from freezer to oven, or in the crock pot.
We also live very close to our families and they help us out whenever we need them. We are so fortunate to have them near by. The boys love playing with their cousins.

I think as long as you can find a small moment of joy during those hectic times it makes it easier to keep at it. We want our kids to experience joy and success and we want to celebrate that with them. All of the craziness is totally worth it when you see the pride in your kids and when you feel so proud of them that you could burst. Our Life is busy but we don't know any different.

Amy: Is there a charity or cause that you currently volunteer with?

Katie: I have been volunteering for Sunrise Youth Group since I was 15 years old. This organization provides social and recreational activities for young adults with special needs. The recreation program has only 2 full time staff and survives solely on volunteers to keep the programs running. The have monthly dances or special events, camping retreats in the fall and winter, wilderness weekends in the summer and a 6 day residential camp in temagami at the end of August. I believe that this organization has touched the lives of so many. First and foremost the members (individuals with special needs), their families and the volunteers. The young people that volunteer get to experience genuine friendship, and really gives them an idea how important they are in people's lives and that a little bit of kindness can go so far and will have a huge impact on someone else.
Amy:  If you were chosen for one of the Mother of the Year Awards, what charity or organization would you ask Walmart to give their donations?

Katie:  I would love to have the money given to sunrise, they are a non-profit charity and would so benefit from money. The desperately need a new 15 passenger van so that they have a reliable vehicle to transport equipment to and from camp and during the week can be used by the day program (adults with special needs) 3 staff, to take them to the places that they volunteer in the community, on day trips etc. it really is an organization that does great work and there is nothing else quite like it.

They could also use new camping equipment, and a Reno of the kitchen so that the day program could have better access to work on their life skills (baking, dishes, basic cooking to work on independence)

Amy:  What keeps you going? (You've always seemed tireless to me)

Katie:  Oh I am tired some days trust me! I just thrive off of how far these little guys have come along and if they can tackle each day with a smile, and not complain then I owe it to them to do the same. I have said it a thousand times, my boys are perfect for me, I wouldn't change a thing. They have made me a better mom, wife and woman. I see the world a little differently, you have to take time to really just appreciate your kids for who they are and what they can bring to this world. I just could imagine what my life would have been without these two little miracles in my life. I truly am a lucky woman to have been given the privilege to be their mom.

You're invited to join the conversation on the Walmart Canada Facebook page. 

Disclosure: I’m part of the Walmart program by Mom Central. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own. Mom of the Year Award: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY Internet access and valid email account required. Nominations open May 10, 2012 to July 8, 2012 for legal residents of Canada over the age of majority. Entrants cannot nominate themselves. One (1) grand prize available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $100,000 donation by Wal-mart Canada Corp. to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Seven (7) runner-up prizes available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $10,000 donation to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Charity/cause subject to verification and final approval by Wal-mart Canada Corp., at its sole discretion. Odds of winning depend on how the judging panel evaluates each entry according to the criteria. For Official Contest Rules and to nominate an entrant, visit [www.momoftheyear.ca].


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