I can't believe summer went by so fast. It was an exciting summer for me and my family. We went on two vacations! We spent quality time with our family. Although I had a blast this summer spending time with my family, I can't help think about last summer when my family and I represented Special Olympics Florida in Slovakia. In my blog about Slovakia, I had a fantastic time representing the Special Olympics Young Athletes of Florida.
We learned so much from the families we met in Slovakia and Ukraine. The stories from the Ukraine family touched our hearts. My mom usually travels with copies of our books in case she spots an opportunity for a story time.
We autographed our books and handed them to Eva Gazova Vrankova, the director of Special Olympics Slovakia. After Eva read, "I MAY NOT BE LIKE YOU, BUT WE COULD BE FRIENDS", she asked if we could translate the books as no books represent the disability community. Mom replied, "I already requested my publishing company to begin the process." Upon returning home, my mom and Lauren Simone Publishing began working on the translation and getting them printed.
We knew we had made a good call once we saw the book in Slovakian. Of course, we went back and forth to ensure the translation was correct before the final draft was approved, then we went to print. Once the book arrived at our home, we decided to Facetime Eva for a surprise; we opened the package together via Facetime. Eva was so happy and excited.
The smile on Rebeka and Barborka's faces while pointing at Florida melted our hearts.
The smile on Filip's face when he saw a character with similar traits made us feel so empowered.
Liliana's and Viktoria's thumbs up was all the approval we needed.
Izabela's peace sign was a sure sign that representation was now present in Slovakia.
We have traveled to many countries. We wanted to stay in Slovakia. They thought we were crazy when we told them we didn't want to return to the USA. We felt at home. Friends became family. I'm not sure where I will travel to next, where were it is, it's the friends that becomes family that we will hold close. I'm on a mission to show the world our disability doesn't define us. Representation and inclusion matter; the color of our skin, the texture of our hair, being in a wheelchair, and having sensory issues doesn't define us. Our hearts do!