Of all the dance marathons we’ve attended over the years, I think IUDM 2016 might go down in history as the best one yet.
We arrived on Friday evening and after a decent four and a half hour drive (other than a few harrowing miles where the setting sun was blinding all the drivers and made for a bit of stressful driving) we decided to just hang out in our hotel room for the rest of the night.
Alyssa and I were even able to watch Z Nation as it aired rather than on Monday afternoon on DVR. That was sort of awesome and in the previews…there was Vasquez…yay!!
Anyway! Yes, we got up fairly early and headed to the dance marathon on Saturday morning. When we got there we expected to meet with our family ‘Buddy.’ This is a student who has been assigned to us, the person who will hang out with the girls the entire time we’re there, accompany us to the stage when it’s time to tell our story and just basically be the liaison for us for whatever we might need.
Every person we’ve ever worked with as a Buddy at both IU and Purdue has been amazing.
But this year…this year was the best one yet because both Olivia AND Alyssa got a buddy. There were two young women waiting for us to arrive on Saturday morning. Becca and Kylie were there to greet us, they had gifts for Alyssa and Olivia and they were so kind and thoughtful and good at being buddies. They made my girls feel like they were the most important people in that entire tennis center.
I think having a buddy specifically for her meant the world to Alyssa. In years’ past, Alyssa has always been treated well by the buddies but this year, she had Kylie all to herself. And having someone who was dedicated to making sure she had a good time was awesome for her.
I’m not sure everyone realizes how hard it can be to be the ‘typical’ sibling of a special needs kid. But Kylie wasn’t there for Olivia. She was there for Alyssa and it was so great to see Alyssa blossom under that attention.
Of course Becca was great with Olivia. She went in that bounce house more often than I can count and she was right by O’s side the entire time we were at the dance marathon. They were both always nearby, ready to do whatever the girls wanted or needed.
My mom asked at one point how people were chosen to be Riley Buddies. We were told that there is a long list of people who apply for the committee on which the Buddies serve. Not everyone who applies to be a buddy gets to be one.
We have always been so lucky with the young women who get assigned to our family but this year, having Alyssa get her very own buddy was the best thing of all.
It amazes me that these events manage to improve year after year. You’d think that at some point they’d hit the pinnacle of perfection, right? I mean, at some point there will be no way to improve, right? Maybe this year was that point. It certainly felt like it for us.
I am sending out huge thanks to both Becca and Kylie into the universe. May amazing things come to these beautiful, amazing young women who gave so selflessly last weekend to make my girls’ time so special.