This post is part of the Global Moms Relay. Every time you share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action), up to $300,000, to four causes helping improve the health and wellbeing of moms and kids worldwide: MAMA, Shot@Life, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Girl Up. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
Fifteen years from now, my daughter Sierra will be 29 years old. Born prematurely due to a virus, my girl has cerebral palsy, is nonverbal and spends the vast majority of her day in a wheelchair. She uses an iPad with a special app as her primary mode of communication. When she was 12 years old, the sweetest words I ever heard in my entire life were the digitized words, "I love you mommy."
Sierra also has epilepsy, a neurological condition that robs many of freedom and a sense of security.
My spouse of 18 years, Kim, gave up her career as a physical therapist to not only be a full-time mom but also a full-time caregiver.
Our family is strong. Solid. Built on love and commitment through the highs and lows of everyday life. We are able to provide for our daughter because I work for a company that offers great benefits (health care, retirement, services and support) for all employees and families. We are fortunate in a way that most families are not.
Even with all the benefits and resources we have, it is a difficult journey. I can't help but feel angry at times for the challenges we must overcome to provide care and opportunity to this incredible child... a person we love with every fiber of our beings.
In 2030, I want to live in a world where special needs children and adults are treated with the utmost respect, where education and program outcomes matter more than reducing the per individual budget. I want to live in a world where two mommies can get married once, in one state, and have it considered legal... versus getting married every time they move to a new state.
I also envision a world where epilepsy does not take children away from their families, in the way that our good friends Kimberly and Kevin suddenly lost their 12-year-old daughter just a few months ago.
While the world around us will continue to change, evolve, expand, contract, there are universal truths that will remain constant. These include the need for love, service, compassion and possibilities. I have hope. Lots of hope. Johnson & Johnson is working successfully to eliminate or significantly reduce the impact of disease and health conditions. Even more, we are working to prevent illness and foster wellness. That excites me, motivates me.
I envision a world where every girl can achieve her dreams and not be held back by written or unwritten rules, barriers, or issues of self-confidence rising from years of hearing "you can't." I hope we hit the tipping point of diversity -- where a small group no longer holds the power to determine who gets the best health care, education and opportunities. From a societal standpoint, we need to move from accepting differences to celebrating diversity. When we hit that point, the possibilities are endless.
You share, they give: Each time you 'like' or share this post via the social media icons on this post or comment below, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action) up to $300,000, to improve the health and wellbeing of moms and kids worldwide through MAMA, Shot@Life, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Girl Up. $1 means one healthy birth in Ethiopia through UNICEF.
You can also use the Donate A Photo* app and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for Girl Up or UNICEF, up to $100,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.
Share this post with the hashtag #GlobalMoms, and visit GlobalMomsRelay.org to learn more. The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter and The Huffington Post created the Global Moms Relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.
* via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn't reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.