Archive for April 2015

Why Advocacy Matters

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In a perfect world, people do the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do.

However, we do not live in a perfect world.

We live in a world where we need to remind people to do the right thing.

Advocacy for individuals who have Down Syndrome exists because of the need to remind the world to do the right thing.

Do the right thing by including all people in the classroom.

Do the right thing by including all people in churches.

Do the right thing by including all people in activities.

Do the right thing by including all people in the work force.

Historically, it has taken the voices of parents and self advocates to remind people to do the right thing.

In the photo above, you will see the Executive Director of Down Syndrome Association of Memphis, Martine Hobson, holding her incredible daughter, Laurie,  and another dear friend of mine, Geri Clark, and her amazing son, Jimmy. They are standing beside their governor, as he signs a bill, nearly 30 years ago. He is doing the right thing, because parents and self advocates encouraged him, and other law makers, to do the right thing.

Martine, Laurie, Jimmy and Geri continue to work tirelessly. Not because they want to. They work tirelessly because people need to be reminded to do the right thing for individuals with Down syndrome in the classroom, in the churches, in the work force, and at play.

These two moms, and two adults, have paved the way. They are pioneers who have taught those of us going behind them about advocacy, why it matters, and how to do it effectively to create a change in the world. Doors have been opened for ME that would not be open with out their hard work.

I would love to tell you that advocacy is no longer needed because of the work they have already done. However, I cannot, in good conscience, make that statement.

Ensuring the rights of individuals with an intellectual/developmental disability is still a work in progress.

That is why I am grateful for, and I will continue to support organizations like the Down syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid South. 

This weekend they are hosting the "Get Down and Derby" event here in Memphis. This event will help support their efforts to continue the good work they have been doing for so many years.

We would love for you to join us, as we view the horses who are racing at the Kentucky Derby, while at the same time we raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid South. It is a fun event, that will make you want to come back yearly! Women donning hats, and men in their  finest suits! Or if you are like John and me, you will be a little shy to do that, but you will still fit in!

President of the DSAM Ray Jansco and his beautiful wife Cari

Thank you to those of you who are joining us this weekend. Your support of MaryEllen and this event means the world to us!

If you have not bought a ticket, but are still interested in going, please contact me, or you can buy one on line on the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid South website.

Advocacy matters. I wish it did not. But it does.

In a perfect world, it would all just happen. We live in a perfectly, imperfect, world...

and so it goes....

PS We will be selling Steamers Jam there as well! Along with our new baskets for sale! Want to know a little secret? The self advocates will be selling more of these baskets if you are interested in buying one for a gift for your friends or family! Contact me for more information!

ME's Barbie Party 4 St Jude's **DATE SET for FIRST Delivery!**

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I am so excited!

We finally have our date set for the FIRST, of I hope MANY deliveries, of Barbies 4 St. Jude from ME's Barbie Party 4 St. Jude!

They will be greeting us at the door on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015!

If you would like to have your Barbie delivered with our first batch of Barbies, you still have time to send one!

Don't forget, we will be delivering them for as long as they are sent our way! It will never be too late! Keep em coming my friends!

We can't wait to share all of the love you have sent our way!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all who have already sent a Barbie! We are so filled with gratitude!

Where Hope Grows- History in the Making!

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I was privileged to watch a private screening of the movie Where Hope Grows.

I can't wait for it to be released in theaters on May 15.

This is truly an exciting time!

You see, one of the actors that stars in this film, David DeSanctis, will become one of the first actors with Down syndrome to play a leading role!

How AMAZING is that!

Not only that, but he steals the show!!

I mean he absolutely STEALS the show!

With out giving any of the plot away, I will tell you, that you are in for a treat, and you will walk away saying to yourself, "I can't wait for the next film starring David DeSanctis!"

I hope you will get to a theater near you, on May 15, and show your support for this film, and this actor! Make your day, and do it!

I can't wait to hear what you think!

ME's Barbie Party 4 St. Jude Information

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People have asked me if they can still send a Barbie to ME for us to deliver to the kids at St. Jude. The answer is absolutely yes.

We will happily deliver Barbies the entire year, to celebrate ME's 10th birthday. 

You can send the Barbie to the Germantown, TN, UPS Store in the Exeter Village Shopping Center. Thermon is ready to get as many as we can send to deliver them to the kids at St. Jude's.

Here is the address: 
ME's Barbie Party 4 St. Jude
Attention: Diane Grover 
2095 Exeter Rd Suite 80-227
Germantown, TN 38138

(***If you are local, Thurmon, the owner of this UPS Store in the Exeter Village Shopping Center, said he is happy to accept drop offs!)

To learn more about how this came to be read my original post click here.

Some have asked, what about the boys? If you want to send something along for the boys, we are recommending for Super Hero Action figures. 

Thank you so much to all who have already sent a Barbie or Super Hero. We are so grateful for your generosity. 

Why Changing the Face of Beauty Matters

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Today, we have announced that I have formally accepted a position on the board of Changing the Face of Beauty.

I want to share with you why I have stood behind this movement from the day I found out about it.

About 3 years ago, a mom  and advocate, Katie Driscoll, contacted me.  She told me she had 5 boys and 1 little girl who had a little something extra. She wanted to discuss with me a project she was working on.  As a mom of a 5 kids, my youngest also with a little something extra, I was excited to meet this mom, who, already, we had so much in common.

I was going to be in Chicago, so I asked her if she wanted to meet for breakfast.

She had seen my work with the IDSC, and wanted to know my thoughts on her project.

She shared with me how she believed if we could get the world to include ALL people in advertising, it would change the world.

It was a very simple concept.

I loved every single thing she was saying, and I was all in. From that day forward, she has had my support.

If you look at advertising, you will see that the most under represented part of society, is in fact the disabilities community. Until now, nobody asked the question, "Why?"

Katie dared to ask it. Over, and over, and over again.

She was right to ask it, and she is right to continue asking it.

I am very proud of all of the work she has done, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and help her going forward.

Her mission is one worth getting behind.


Are you?

Another Reason Why Barbies Matter...#AspenStrong

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I am sitting here today, in shock and in complete sadness. On Good Friday, a very dear friend of mine found out her sweet baby girl has leukemia. My heart broke in a million little pieces for Courtney, for her husband, and their family, when I found out. Today, they start their battle against this monster that has invaded their sweet baby girl.

You see, Courtney is one of the Co-Founders of the Grand Strand Down Syndrome Society with me. Courtney's little boy, Koby, and ME, connected us because of their little extra chromosomes. Koby is not much older than ME, so we were walking this journey, as new moms with little ones with Down syndrome, together, when we met.

And together we founded the Grand Strand Down Syndrome Society.

I can still see us, in my living room, working on the by-laws. There we were, sitting on the floor, with our babies crawling on us, and kids running all around us. My five were all still at home, so they got to know Ms. Courtney and Koby very well. Our families worked very hard to get everything up and running in time for the golf tournament that was being hosted by my husband's paper mill on behalf the GSDSS.

We had lots of laughs during that time. It was amazing the funny things that would happen that would get us laughing so hard we were nearly crying.

We shed some tears too. ME and Koby each had open heart. Koby's was right away, before I knew this sweet family. ME's was just before Courtney and I met. So, thankfully, we each had this very scary event behind us.

That is, until Courtney called me one day, in tears. The procedure that was done on Koby, was going to have to be re-done, due to a complication.

I promised her I would sit by her side every minute of that surgery, and for as long as she needed me. And I did.

Koby got through his second open heart, with much success, and we continued to build support for new parents through the GSDSS. We planned mom's night outs, dreamed of the programs we could offer new parents, and planned the golf tournament that was being hosted on our behalf. Everything was ready to go! All we had left to do, was to wait for the date of the event to get here!

That is, until I got the call from my husband one afternoon, telling me we would be getting transferred.

It was a complete surprise. It was much sooner than we ever thought.

I had to make a call I did not want to make, and let Courtney know. I was not only moving, but also, I would not be there for the golf tournament, that we were both so excited about. A lot of people stepped up at that time, including our mutual friend, Sharon, who was our third co-founder. So Courtney was in good hands. But I was sad I would miss this, and not be there by her side.

They pulled that day off, and the GSDSS is still going strong. The money raised by that event is still helping them do amazing programming and serving parents in the Grand Strand area.

The move happened, and Courtney and I remained in touch. Thanks to modern technology, I have been able to watch Koby grow into a little man, and watch Courtney and her family grow!

ME was my youngest, and Koby is Courtney's oldest. So I have enjoyed over the years watching Courtney and her husband add children to their beautiful family.

Well, as the story starts, you know that her sweet baby girl, Koby's youngest sister, Aspen, was diagnosed with leukemia less than a month after I started collecting Barbie's for St Jude, on behalf of ME.

Now, I have another reason why Barbies matter! Her name is Aspen.

Please, if you all will, collectively pray for sweet baby girl Aspen and her family. The next three years will be a battle. But I know Aspen's mama well, and I know she is a fighter and she has a very strong faith. I know that Aspen is in the best of hands with her family and her doctors. In spite of knowing that, it would mean so much to me if you would pray for Aspen these days, as they begin their fight against cancer.

A dear friend of their family has set up a Go Fund Me page. If you are interested in helping them in that way, I have linked it here. I am sending one of ME's Barbies for Aspen to her at the hospital. I hope in Aspen's honor, I  will get many more Barbies sent my way, so I can give MANY sweet girls a little something from ME and me, when they need a Barbie by their side watching them be brave and strong.

Courtney, our family loves you dearly. We are here for you, and we will be praying our hearts out throughout this journey. We are standing with you, and sitting beside you, and believing in #AspenStrong!

Updated to add photo of Aspen and her Barbie that we sent out: 

Dreams Matter! Christi and Austin are Coming to Memphis!

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I have a confession to make. The day ME was baptized, I cried. I tried to hide my tears, because I did not want this day to be remembered as the day that Diane cried. But I have to be honest, I could not stop the tears from running down my cheeks.

The tears started when the priest handed my brother, ME's Godfather, along with the other Godparents who were standing there, the white garment. The priest explained how this white garment will go with them throughout life, for communion, and then later, marriage, or what ever their vocation. 

That was it, the tears were welling and there was no containing them. I looked around at the other parents standing there with us, with their sweet little babies, and thought, "Yes, this is true for you. But this is not true for us. I do not know what will be true for us."

I  thought this way because I did not know what was going to happen in ME's future. I cried because I was letting go of the dreams I had for MaryEllen.

Later, I learned that the reality is, you can't know what is going to happen in any child's future. 

However on that day, because of my ignorance, (much that came from outdated information that was given to me) I cried tears of sadness, and letting go of dreams. That day, I was frozen in grief for what I did not know. Paralyzed.

Well, time has shown me that those were wasted tears. ME made her First Holy Communion right on time, and loves to receive when we go to church. 

Will she marry? I do not know. Her siblings say no. lol However, we are more open to it today than we were the day she was baptized because of others who have gone before us. Including one family that is very special to us. 

Early on in this journey I met a mom, Judie Hockel, who I came to look to as a mentor and a dear friend. Judie's daughter, Christi, was significantly older than MaryEllen, so this friendship was like a guide book for me as well. I could see all the possibilities for MaryEllen, by watching Christi.

Christi had a boyfriend, worked in a school, and had a very full life.  It was inspiring to me to watch her live her one and beautiful life!

Judie and I grew in our friendship, and she helped me a great deal with the early days of the IDSC. Mentoring me and teaching me about the ins and outs of advocacy, about good advocacy, and believing with me that I had a message that was worth listening to. 

I got to meet Judie and Christi at the National Down Syndrome Congress convention, and put names and faces together. Yep, just as inspiring in person as they were through emails and messages. 

Life rolled on, and I continued to learn from them both.

Then it happened. Judie let us know that Christi and her boyfriend, Austin, got engaged! I cried tears as I read the articles and watched the video about their engagement and wedding. Make sure you click on that link and watch it. I have issued the tissue warning. It is beautiful!

Let me tell you, this was big news, and I felt very lucky to be able to hear about the journey directly from Judie. She and I exchanged many emails about this experience, and what this would look like to their families. I loved and appreciated so much being able to hear, and learn, while this was happening in real time. 

Dreams do matter. Knowing that you can continue to dream for your child that anything is possible matters too! 

Christi and Austin are living their dream, and sharing that with others! 

In fact, they will be here, in Memphis, this Saturday, April 11 at 9:30 for an event sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid South. If you are within driving distance, this will be worth the ride for you. For more information, click here

You do need to RSVP, which you can do by calling 901-547-7589. Hope to see you there!

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

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I love this time of year. If you have followed me long enough, you know I get very excited that my grapevines are blooming! Fresh new life, ready to bring me my grapes! I simply love watching this unfold each spring! 

This year I planted over sixty bulbs. I am going to add more each year, but I wanted to see if they would grow in my clay-like soil! Voila! They are popping up all over! My bulbs are producing beautiful flowers! Happy happy heart! 

My table is set and ready for my family to come home and celebrate Easter! I love having all of my birds in one nest! I'm ready to enjoy my weekend with my favorite peeps! 

This photo below is of my friend Yosh! He is making Charoset for his family's Jewish Passover! I love learning about the Jewish traditions from Yosh's parents, who are dear friends and fellow advocates! 

From my family to yours: Happy Easter and Happy Passover! Have a Chag Sameach! Translation: Have a Joyous Holiday! 

Cover Photos Matter!

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This past year, I have written many posts that I have shared with you why something matters to me... to the world... or to both, me and the world.

I am doing that again today! 

I simply love this cover photo created by Daniel Goers of Dan Goers. Creatography

It says everything I could ever want it to say! And more!

The quote, the design, the fresh new beginning! With all of you as a part of it!! AMAZING!

I love that so many people answered the call to be on this photo, and that Daniel found a way to include each and every one of you! 

I look forward to the great adventures we will all have going forward! I am excited about my new page Diane Grover and Friends! I can't wait to see the fun things we do through that page! 

Life is indeed made for good friends and GREAT adventures! 

Thank you all for going on this adventure with me! 

Jobs Matter and Sarah Matters!

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Meet Sarah! 

Sarah is busy working on MaryEllen's customized jars of jam at Steamers Coffeehouse in Arvada, Colorado that I am selling here in Memphis! She is one reason I am telling the world that jobs matter to ALL people!

Aaron, Alexa, Amy, Betsy, Cassie, Chris, Crysta, Darol, David, Denise, Elsa, Emily, Jill, Jenniger, Jessica, Karen, Kira, Lucke, Nate "Dogg", Qiana, Penny, Robert, Meri, Nicole, Sara, Sharvetta, Sonya, Stephanie, Nick "Tiger", and Tina are many more reasons why I am telling the world that JOBS MATTER!

Laurie, Kenny, Murphy, Tyler, Jenna, Amanda, Katie, Lacey, MaryEllen, the list goes on and on are more reasons JOBS MATTER! Jobs matter! It is really that simple. 

This all matters so much that I am committed to selling, to benefit the Down syndrome Association of Memphis, as many jars of jam from Steamers Jam as I can!

So committed that I am offering to sell baskets as well.

ME and I will put together a basket for you! Proceeds from the sale of our baskets will benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis! The DSAM wants you to know that jobs matter to them too!

So, help me, help Steamers and the Down syndrome Association of the Mid South, by helping me sell more and more of these yummy jars of jam! Share this post with anyone you think would be interested in purchasing a basket or a jar of jam!

Let's keep Sarah and all of her friends at Steamers Jam making incredible Steamers Raspberry JalapeƱo jam! 

And let's raise a little money, while we raise a little awareness, for the Down syndrome Association of Memphis!

If you would like to buy by the jar, or buy a  basket, let me know by emailing or calling me at 901-849-7111

For other flavors or more information on how you can order directly from Steamers you can contact Jenni at Steamers by calling 303-423-8172 or emailing her at