Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books Launches Kickstarter Campaign
This is a guest post from Heather McCarthy of Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books.
I want to start by thanking Diversability for this guest blog post and for kindly allowing me to share a family story. My name is Heather McCarthy. I am a wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, and aspiring author. This last week we took our two kids Maya (age 5) and Christian (age 2) to a water park in Sheridan, Illinois for spring break. It is a small park with just a few slides and a lazy river; perfect for the little ones.
We chose a small water park because while my son is a maniac in the water, my daughter is much more timid in the aquatics department. She hates getting her face splashed, her hair wet, or water squirted at her. When we arrived at the park, Christian went straight to splashing and screaming while Maya was cautiously maneuvering through the water park and finally braved the kiddie slide that looked like a small mountain to her. Right behind my daughter was a young girl that appeared to be the same age only she showed no fear. She ran up the stairs, buckets of water dumping on her head, splashing through the puddles with a smile from ear to ear. Slowly Maya got braver and braver. I’m not sure who reached out to who but the next thing I know the brave little girl and my cautious Maya are partners in crime. They held hands up the stairs, through the water buckets, and went down the double slide side by side. When they made it to the bottom there was an immediate high five and the process was repeated. Up the stairs, through the buckets, splashing along to the top of the slide they went. More high fives, and repeat. Fast forward forty minutes and Maya finally needed a break. She hugged her new friend good bye and went for a snack break.
As Maya munched on her pretzels and drank her juice she couldn’t contain her excitement. Like a typical five year old she asked, “Did you see me mom?” “Did you see that giant slide?” “Did you see how fast I was going?” I assured her I saw everything, but she wanted to give me the play by play of her and her adventurous partner. I was so grateful for the fearless little girl to gain the trust of Maya and help her brave the “giant slide”.
After our fun day at the park, once the kids were all snuggled in for the night, I reflected back on what a great day it was. Our wonderful day raised a few lingering question, “When do kids notice? When does it matter? Why does it matter?” I wondered if my daughter noticed that her adventure partner was a little girl with Down Syndrome. It didn’t matter to Maya and I hope it never does because why should it? The two of them held hands, high fived, and played for almost an hour without saying a single word to each other. They didn’t need to communicate verbally; all they needed was a hand to hold and smiles on their faces. I wondered if others noticed that my daughter also has a disability. Did they see her drink her specialized formula, take her medication, or eat her prepackaged snacks that were not allowed in the park? I wondered when the rest of the world will see ability through the eyes of a five year old. There is a lot we can learn about ourselves when we look at the world through the eyes of a small child.
It is days like this that encourage me to continue working towards my new passion, creating personalized picture books for children with special needs. It was my children and encounters like the water park that inspired me and my best friend Kate to create Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books. Both my children were born with a rare metabolic condition called Propionic Acidemia, or PA for short. Propionic Acidemia is classified as an organic acid disorder where abnormal levels of organic acids in the blood, urine, and tissues can be toxic and can cause serious health problems. Basically, it means their bodies cannot process proteins properly. Maya and Christian take a specialized formula and medication to assist with their condition. They are not allowed to eat meats, beans, cheeses, or any other food high in protein. They both follow a very strict diet that requires meticulous attention to each gram of food they consume. While the diagnosis seems overwhelming at times, it by no means defines Maya or Christian.
When Maya reached school age, I wanted to make sure that her teacher and her peers knew about her condition and her special needs. I created a small personalized picture book for her to bring with to school. This book talked about her hobbies, interests, and also her diagnosis of Propionic Acidemia. When I showed the book to my teaching partner Kate we realized that there are millions of children out there just like Maya and Christian. They all need a personalized book that will first explain what makes them just like everyone else and then explain their disability, condition, or syndrome. Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books was born. As two moms and teachers we did not realize the extreme costs behind starting a business. In order to bring our dream to life and start helping children, we are going to be running a Kickstarter Campaign. For those of you not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a global crowdfunding platform. Kickstarters mission is to help bring creative projects to life. Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. The project creators offer rewards to thank backers for their support. The deal with Kickstarter is that it is all-or-nothing — projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money. Kate and I need to raise funds in order to pay for our printer, illustrator, website, and all the other fees associated with starting a small business. Our campaign starts today, April 6th and will run through May 4th.
Thank you again to Diversability for allowing me to share my family story and the journey of our new company. We appreciate the support!