Today is Nate’s fourth birthday (holla!) and, thanks to all of you loyal Nater Tater fans, I had the privilege of being Santa Claus to not one but two very deserving teachers. When we posted Nate’s Birthday Wish, in which we asked Nate’s fans to purchase a $4 Amazon.com gift card to give to Nate’s lead therapist Ms. Susie, we genuinely thought we’d raise $100. With a quiet goal of that size, we felt it should all go to Ms. Susie as that amount wouldn’t have as great of an impact if it were split with Ms. Mollie, Nate’s speech language pathologist. Turns out, you all gave $100 in less than one hour.
Many of you were extremely generous, giving $4 for each member of your family (including pets!). Gift cards ranged from $4 to $50 from people we know and people we don’t. More importantly, the messages that you wrote with each gift card were really awesome–from thanking Ms. Susie for her awesome work with kids on the spectrum to cheering Nate on in our big world. All told, $560 in Amazon.com gift cards were made in honor of Nate’s 4th Birthday Wish. Five hundred and sixty dollars. With a total that large, we felt we needed to share it with Ms. Mollie, who helps kids of all abilities (neurotypical and not) with speech delays or communication disorders. Like Ms. Susie, Ms. Mollie needs to engage her very young students, who she sees on varying schedules (she sees Nate five times a week), with magnetic activities through which they learn and grow. So, we decided to give $200 to Ms. Mollie and the rest to Ms. Susie. The best part? It was a complete surprise to Ms. Mollie!
We printed out the gift cards and put them in envelopes for Ms. Mollie (left) and Ms. Susie (right) that said Birthday Wishes for Ms. Susie and Ms. Mollie from Nate. Needless to say, they’re over the moon — completely over the moon — and a bit awestruck that a bunch of folks they don’t know would so generously support the work that they do every day with Nate and many other kids over the years. The gift was given with one caveat – it must be used for things above and beyond their daily needs. The fun things. The things they wanted to get but couldn’t. The things they know would engage Jolly or Matthew or Abby best, and will be used for the generations after them, but they didn’t have it in the classroom. That stuff. In short, you all dropped Santa Claus on Nate’s teachers in the middle of May. And it’s an awesome feeling.
Ms. Mollie and Ms. Susie have agreed to let me share the items that they purchase with these gift cards. For those of you with kids on the autism spectrum, it will be a great resource to see what these therapists think are the best things out there. And for those of you with no connection to autism except for Nate, it will open your eyes to the expense of adaptive toys and products that are needed for our kids. Susie anticipates using some of the money now and some at the start of the school year (Nate will be with Susie in pre-K for another year! Holla!), so her list might come in two stages.
I’ll write a post this week about Nate and his week long birthday celebration at Disney World (which was amazing!) but I really wanted to write this post today — because we know our lives are better because of these two teachers and the others who support their work — Ms. Mechelle, Ms. Julianne, and Ms. Sandy. And you all made it possible for us to surprise the heck out of them on Nate’s fourth birthday. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your amazing generosity in honor of our little guy and the therapists that work with him every day.