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Friends & Family,
Our sweet girl, Olivia, was diagnosed with low-functioning Autism this summer. After years
of researching about autism and watching Olivia develop more autistic traits, this
diagnosis wasn’t a shock to us. It is just a new path on the same journey.
Olivia has always been our “mystery girl.” She was born with stiff joints (described with the
term Arthrogryposis) and weak muscles. She doesn’t walk at the age of five and the
cause is unknown. In addition to that, she is very developmentally delayed and therefore
is on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum.
She has touched so many lives since her birth. I don’t pretend to imply that things haven’t
been difficult. Of course they have. But, our girl has taught us so much. God chose us to
be her family, and we believe our journey is perfectly planned by Him. Olivia may not
have many words, but He is speaking every day through her. We praise Him for His mercy
and grace as we raise our daughter.
Jacob turned 11 in August, and he is such an amazing big brother. We are proud of his
sensitive and caring personality and we know Olivia has forever affected who he is and
who he will be. God’s hand is shaping each of us.
Besides lessons in faith, love, and compassion, this journey has blessed us with so many
new friends who are walking their own similar path. These families are part of our village.
We support each other through each step of this journey and through sharing our stories,
we hope to inspire acceptance and understanding.
Autism Speaks is an organization that works to
raise awareness about ASD (autism spectrum disorder)
and provide resources for families, teachers, and
communities. All over the country, fund-raising walks
take place every year, and the money raised goes to
help continue the vision of the organization. Autism
Speaks was one of the first sites I found when I originally
began researching ASD, and the video library was a
great resource for us as we tried to determine if Olivia fit
various indicators for autism.
We will be participating in the 2010 Carolina’s Walk
Now for Autism Speaks at the Charlotte Motor
Speedway in Concord on Saturday, October 9th. We
are excited to be walking with other children on the
spectrum as well as the families and friends who have
been affected by autism. That Saturday, we will be
surrounded by our village while raising money to help
further research and support families.
Team Olivia will be walking in honor of
our sweet girl, and we would love
for you to be a part of this day with us.
WALK WITH US!
We will be arriving at the
event between 8:30-9:00
on Saturday, October 9th.
The walk begins at 10:00 a.m.
Olivia will lead the team in her wheelchair and we will walk together to honor her
amazing life. If you would like to walk with us, please join our team and/or email us
at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can make plans to meet together before the
event begins. We will be making Team Olivia t-shirts for team members to wear
during the walk.
Whether you are able to join us for the walk or not, please consider donating to
Autism Speaks. You can visit Team Olivia’s webpage and make a donation toward
our team goal of $300.
We understand how busy life can be, and we also understand the economic
struggles a lot of families are facing right now, so if you are unable to walk with
us and/or make a donation, there is still something you can do. Pray.
Please pray that Autism Speaks is able to help many newly-diagnosed families this
coming year, and that they are able to raise the funds needed to continue
supporting the autism community.
Pray that Brian and I will be guided by God to make the best decisions for Jacob
Pray that Jacob continues to grow into the young man God intends him to be.
Pray that his compassionate nature is felt by all those around him, so that they may
be inspired to be more compassionate toward others.
And pray for our sweet girl. Pray that Olivia grows stronger every day, is able to
communicate more, and is freed from the constraints of her disabilities.
Thank you for your support and love.
Donna & Brian Murray