Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Soulshine Found in Savannah

Sunday afternoon I made my way through the crowd to briefly visit with another artist. Along the way I noticed a young lady in a wheelchair shopping with who I assumed to be her son and her mother. Since my "internal radar" is always keeping an eye out for families with an exceptional loved one at art festivals I took a quick glance at the young mom. My first thought was, "Wow! What a beautiful woman!" Okay, I'll admit that I'm attracted to women. So there. It's all out in the open now.

My second thought was that she was recovering from a broken leg or some other injury which required the use of the wheelchair. She obviously didn't look like the stereotypical individual facing huge challenges like Ben or any other exceptional person.

When I got back to my booth I found the pretty young mom, her son, and her mother browsing through the artwork. In a typical fashion I asked if they had any questions and that I'd be glad to help them. The voice of an angel, much like Ben's, responded in a monotone and slurred manner: "Is this your work?"

Let me proudly introduce to you my newest hero and a woman I'm am thrilled to say will be hanging out with me once again this weekend: Lindsay Ashman. Lindsay is a 27-year-old mother of a handsome young man named Clay. Ironically, as you are about to find out, Clay is the same age as Ben. Over the next few minutes two individuals with the same headstrong passion fell onto an isolated island amongst the thousands of shoppers at Savannah's historic Riverfront.

I don't remember when I actually said the words, "Lindsay, you stopped at the right booth." but I distinctly remember her saying, "I know I have." At that point she had absolutely no idea of our situation and my determination to make the world a better place for exceptional people. There is no way to share with you our conversation over the next few minutes. It was one of those moments when time stood still and yet seemed to pass too quickly. I showed her the advertisement I always carry with me about our blog (notice that she is holding it in the photo). She briefly told me her story which I now know more about by Googling her name (I encourage you to do the same).

In the end I know exactly why I was supposed to be at the Savannah Seafood Festival this past weekend. I was reminded of this when I read her e-mail to me this morning after she had read yesterday's blog entry. In a sense I am ashamed. I know that was not her intention because her bubbly happy personality reached out through her words to me and targeted my heart. It was another gentle reminder that things happen for a specific reason. This is something I should very well be familiar with in my own journey.

At the age of 23 Lindsay was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia (commonly known as FA). She is a bright individual that will not let the diagnosis stop her from raising funds and finding a cure for her genetic disorder. Just like PKS, FA is rare and therefore doesn't get the attention of medical research like more common debilitating syndromes like Downes and Autism. Lindsay spent her afternoon collecting business cards from vendors who might donate work for her next fundraiser with the proceeds going to CureFA.

Despite her situation Lindsay remains upbeat and ready to do whatever it takes to overcome the odds against her. I'm certain that she will succeed! I need her. My family needs her. The world needs Lindsay to live a long and happy life!

See the next photo? She did that just to let me know that she can't touch her toes but her tongue can touch her nose. I gotta say that I am looking forward to spending some more time with her this weekend.

It is a privilege to hang out with some of the most talented artists in the world each weekend. It is more of a privilege to meet folks like Lindsay Ashman while on the road. This lets me know that I'm where I am supposed to be.

(Aside to JC - I'll pass along Lindsay's e-mail for you!)


Gretchen said...

Great post! Lindsey seems to be an amazing woman--and I will "goodsearch" her. I hope her fundraising efforts are hugely successful.

Still praying for you Bennie. Kisses to Ben!

Ben and Bennie said...

Gretchen - we found a soulmate in the Deep South! She's all over our plight. She's simply amazing!

Gretchen said...

Bennie--that is just awesome! Prayers for her to--for health and success in her endeavors.

I wish "people" (those in charge of the money!) realized how much these little-known syndromes and diseases need focus!

A small dig, if I may, God was with you the whole time--that's how you and Lindsay were both in the right place at the right time. He knew you needed her :)
Don't give up hope or faith!