Shelly Alvarez - (Pusher) & Carlos Andres - (Rider);
My name is Shelly Alvarez and I am writing on behalf of my son Carlos Andres, in regards to the Special Compass organization.
Carlos Andres is an amazing 8 year old boy, who also has Cerebral Palsy. At two days old, he experienced a near SIDS event and as a result he has several more challenges than his typical peers. At this time he is non-verbal and non-ambulatory. We have spent countless hours in Physical therapy, Speech therapy, and Occupational therapy since his first week of life.
As a parent, I honestly grieved, the milestones that he “missed”. I wondered how it could be possible that my son would not be able to fully participate in activities that I dreamt about for him. However, over time I began to embrace what he COULD do, and I cheered on the “inchstones” that we have been able to experience. It has been a long journey and we have more mountains and valleys ahead of us, but Special Compass has provided a new view and a fun terrain for this journey.
Special Compass has opened the door for Carlos to see himself as an athlete. Carlos spends most of his time “working out” at the gym during his therapies. These races are truly his first “extra-curricular” activity. The pride in his smile when we are at a race is amazingl. He is legitimately tired at the end of a race and you can see the satisfaction all through his body. HIs smile beams as he gets his medal at the end of the races.
At our first race, we had a friend volunteer to push Carlos Andres and I also invited his Speech Therapist and his Physical Therapist; they ran together and Team Carlos was born. Since our first race, Team Carlos has grown to include his teachers, family friends, and therapist. After each race they all tell us, “Please let us know about the next race. We want to be there!”We all love being a part of Special Compass!
Power Buddies and Special Compass has not just helped our son, but it has helped us as a family too. Our entire family attends the races and it is one of our favorite activities. Carlos Andres has a 4 year old sister and a one year old brother. Special Compass gives them a real opportunity to cheer on their brother. We always bring signs to cheer him on as we wait at the finish line.
It must also be stated that being a special needs family can be hard and lonely! There are activities that we don’t do and sometimes avoid, because the activities or the area is not inclusive. In addition to this is the emotional component of being a Special Needs parent. It is a difficult world to navigate; the doctor appointments, the hospitals, the IEP meetings, the therapy appointments. Special compass has made us feel LESS alone. At our first race my husband commented to me “Wow, honey, we’re not alone”. The group of parents and the Power Buddies, have made us feel like we are part of a community in which we BELONG!! There is an underlining message of “You got this! We’ve been there! You’re not climbing this mountain alone!”
We are so grateful for Special Compass and the opportunities it has given to Carlos Andres, our family and our friends. We look forward to many more races and desire to be a part of Special Compass for many more years to come!