Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

Insights into the mind of a blogger. (Liebster Blog Award)

  • Grand Haven, MI Lighthouse - photo credit Corey Seeman

If you have not read my last few posts you may not understand what this post is about. This blog has been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award and as part of the award process I must answer eleven questions that were given to me. I have chosen to ignore the numbered order of the questions and have been answering them according to my own flow.

I started with question number eleven because it was asking about something I was processing and thinking about on my own but had not covered it in this blog. The question dealt with the death of Robert Ethan Saylor. Due to the importance of that tragedy the entire post was devoted to that question. The next post was called “What would you take with you on a deserted island” and covered questions one, three, and seven. Today’s post is a hefty one and covers six of the questions. Take a look and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you.

Question 2.

If someone could spend one day in your city, how would you recommend they spend that day?

If you were to come to my city for 1 day and ask me how you should spend your time the first thing I would do would try to get an idea of what your interests are. Since I cannot do that I am going to take a “shotgun” approach and hit a few different things. The first thing I would suggest is heading to Lake Michigan so that you could experience one of the Great Lakes. If you have never been to Lake Michigan it is worth seeing any time of year but there is a lot more you can do there during the summer months. I live about 20 minutes from the state beach in Holland and 45 minutes from the state beach in Grand Haven. Both have piers you can walk out on as well as lighthouses.

If you are a baseball fan I would suggest going to see a West Michigan Whitecaps game, they are single A minor league team for the Detroit Tigers. The games are a lot of fun, the food is great, and the park is beautiful. If it is hockey season you could also opt for the Grand Rapids Griffins. They are a minor league club for the Detroit Red Wings. I am not a big hockey fan but I have gone to a few Griffins’ games and they are always a good time.

If you are the type that likes a little refined experience I would suggest the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. They have both indoor and outdoor gardens to tour and usually have special events going on. Currently they have their “Butterflies Are Blooming” display where you can experience 6,000 butterflies that represent 40 different species from around the world. Your young kids would like the butterflies but if that is not going on when you visit I would suggest the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Treyton went their recently on a field trip and had a ton of hands-on fun.

This video shows Trey playing at the Children’s Museum

Question 4.

What would you do if you won the Powerball Lottery?

When I started jotting down my thoughts about this question I was a little disappointed. Everything I wrote was so stinking practical I could not believe it. It is yet another sign that I am a 40 year-old father of four. My dreams are even practical!

First I would pay off any debt I had like my house or car or whatever. The next thing would be to put some money away so that my kids will be set. For Treyton that would involve finally getting a special needs trust setup for him. I would also make some significant donations to some of my favorite charities.

After that I would sell my current house and build a new house on some property, I would like a large piece of land but would settle for at least 10 acres. I would like to have a barn with a few animals and also enough room to be able to do some target shooting. If there was any money left I would like to travel with my wife.

Question 5.

What is your favorite non-profit organization, and why?

Prior to Treyton’s diagnosis of Trisomy 21, my favorite charity was World Vision. This organization focuses on helping the physical and emotional needs of people all over the world. Then, once those physical needs are met, they try to help their spiritual needs. I still think this is a very important non-profit organization.

Now that my world has been directly impacted by Down syndrome I focus has changed and those organizations that are working to help individuals with cognitive disabilities rank much higher now. Over the past two years I have worked to raise $10,000 for my local Down syndrome association and have become interested in the national organizations such as the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC). However, given the lack of impact these big organizations have had in the Ethan Saylor tragedy I am not impressed.

There are a couple Down syndrome organizations that should be praised. The first is the International Down Syndrome Coalition (IDSC). The IDSC is a grassroots organization that is growing in both size and influence. It is not weighed down by the bureaucracy of a large organization and is focused on making a lasting impact.

The other organization is one I am just learning about, it is Lamb’s Farm located in the northwest Chicago suburb of Libertyville, IL. Lamb’s Farm started in 1961 from the belief that individuals with cognitive disabilities deserved to lead productive and fulfilling lives. It began as a pet store on State Street in Chicago and now embodies a residential facility as well as vocational training and placement along with several businesses. If you are in that area this spring stop by and check out their new garden center, they will be selling the plants that I supply them.

As far as the question that was posed, you may have noticed I did not really answer it. The reality is I currently do not have a favorite non-profit organization but there are several that interest me.

Question 6.

What “app” do you use more than any other?

EvernoteThere are several apps that I use more than the others but the one I use the most is called Evernote. In fact, I am using it to write this post. I discovered Evernote before I had a smart phone or tablet device. I started using it on my PC as a way to organize my thoughts and notes and be able to access them on other computers.

Now that Evernote created an app, I can type or handwrite notes and then access them on my phone, computer, tablet, or someone else’s device. I can also clip images, web pages, or snap pictures and save them to Evernote. I think it is a cool app and worth checking out if you are not familiar with it.

Question 9.

What are you favorite blogs or social media sites?

When it comes to social media I am pretty pragmatic. Just about everything I do and every site I visit is focused on promoting the mission of Treyton’s Posse which is to break the mold the world has tried to use to group all individuals with Down syndrome. It is about creating change, opening doors, sharing the hope, and experiencing the joy. With that in mind I spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow the links provided to see Treyton’s Posse’s presence on those sites.

Question 10.

What world event do you think had the most impact in shaping who you are today?

I have thought about this question for some time but cannot come up with one certain world event that I believe really impacted me, shaping who I am as a person. However, as I considered the question I began to recall a number of events that probably did impact me whether I realized it or not.

  • Iran hostage crisis (1979 – 1981)
  • Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington (1980)
  • Attempted assassination of President Reagan (March 30, 1981)
  • Marine barracks bombing in Beirut (October 23, 1983)
  • Iran-Contra Affair (1985 – 1987)
  • Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (January 28, 1986)
  • Berlin Wall Falls (November 9, 1989)
  • First Gulf War (1990 – 1991)
  • Columbine High School massacre (April 20, 1999)
  • 9/11 (September 11, 2001)
  • War in Afghanistan (2001 – present)
  • Iraq War (2003 – present)

As I put this list of events together and confirmed their dates it hit me – the Cold War. Although the Cold War was not so much an event as it was a time-period, it certainly impacted the way I viewed the world. One of my favorite movies (the original Red Dawn) is the perfect example. I remember going to the theater as a kid to watch that movie. There were many movies I remember watching during the 1980′s that were based on the Cold War like War Games, The Hunt for Red October, and Spies Like Us.

One question left.

I have decided to devote my next post to the last question from the Liebster Award Process. Like the answer to the first question, this one deserves a post to itself. Maybe you could consider your own answer to this last question until then. The question is:

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Rob Arnold has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 19 years. Together they have three daughters and one son. He earned his bachelor's degree in General Business from Grand Valley State University as well as an MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University. He enjoys reading, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his family.