February 15, 2014

Mark's big day!

Today was the day that Mark had been looking forward to for several weeks... his pizza/cake party! The whole thing came about when he got a little bit of money in some of his cards, and I asked him what he'd like to buy with it. After thinking about it for a while, he said that he wanted to have a party for the residents of his group home, complete with pizza and cake.

He's been working really hard with his physical and occupational therapists in order to get strong enough to be able to walk. The group home isn't wheelchair accessible, so he had to be walking in order to go in there. The malignant tumors in his legs and on his spine made it very painful and difficult to walk, so after having radiation to shrink the tumors, and lots of therapy, he was strong enough to walk with a walker.

My parents went to pick up Mark from the nursing home, and I (along with Noah and Eli; Jerry was working, unfortunately) planned to meet them at the group home for the party. I picked up Mark's cake this morning, and I thought it was perfect for him!

I packed up Mark's gifts for the residents, the cake, the salad, and soda into the car, and the boys and I drove to the group home, where we met up with Mark and my parents. Mark was really excited for the party! My parents said that the nurses heard all about it all day today, because it was all Mark could talk about.

We went in and spent an hour or so chatting with the residents, and letting them catch up with Mark. (In the photos I post, I've blurred the faces of the other residents; I didn't want to risk upsetting anyone's family). The woman who owns the home has a couple of dogs, and you could tell they were happy to see Mark ;)

There was one man who brought out his art to show us, and I was dumbfounded at how great it was! He is very talented, and was proud to show off his work.

He said that he just looks at photos and draws them--the next time I go there, I'd like to bring him a picture of my boys and see if he'll draw them for me. He had a lot of drawings of Gene Simmons, because he's a fan of KISS.

My dad went to pick up the pizza at 4:00, and I spent some time in the kitchen plating it, while my kids took it out to the dining room for everyone. My kids are ridiculously spoiled, and I really wanted them to help out today and do something for someone other than themselves. My kids fight almost constantly, and I wanted them to see that there are 18 men with special needs living in one small environment, and they get along so nicely--and they are so happy!

Anyway, after dinner, I brought out Mark's cake to show everyone before we cut into it.

We cut the cake and passed that out, and then I chatted with the woman who owns the home for a little while. I was really interested to hear more about how things are run, and if there really was hope of Mark going back to live there. She said that in the 60's, the home was a children's home--kids and babies with special needs, many of whom didn't live very long. I had no idea, and I found that really interesting, although sad.

Mark sat and chatted with his friends for a while before it was time to go, and then we passed out his gifts. It was so fun to give them out! A few of the men were crowded right around me, waiting for me to pull out the gifts with their names on them ;)

Now that I've gotten a glimpse into their personalities, I'd love to buy them a couple of gifts for Christmas or something. Shopping for them was a little difficult without knowing anything about them, other than what was on the wish list I was given. Today, I learned a lot more about each of them.

Mark had a really good time, but you could tell he was getting pretty tired. He hadn't walked this much in the last two months combined! But he said he had a ball, which was the point of the whole thing.

There was about 1/3 of the cake left, so Mark ended up taking it with him to the nursing home and giving it to the nursing staff. Now that we've seen how well he did for his party, I'm hoping we can pick him up once in a while and take him out for an hour or two, even if it's just to McDonald's for lunch. He loved getting out of the nursing home for a little while. He's treated really well at the nursing home, but Mark has always enjoyed the outdoors, and being very active, so sitting inside all day has been hard for him.

Spending time at the group home today was amazing. I'm so glad that I got to meet all of the residents of the home, and it was so refreshing to talk with people that just don't have any complaints ;)  I'm so glad that Mark's party today went off without a hitch, too! The guys all loved seeing him, and he was so happy to feel at home again for a little while. A huge thank you to all of you that helped make this happen; if it weren't for the cards he received, he never would have even had the idea to throw a pizza party. The next big focus for Mark is to get strong enough to walk with minimal assistance, and he's ready to work hard on it (powered by Shamrock Shakes, of course)!


  1. sounds like you all had an amazing day =] makes me so happy to read!

  2. This is so nice. You're such a good person and a great example for your kids.

  3. What a wonderful day for all! So sweet of him to share his good fortune with others with a party. That guy can really draw! I hope he'll do your family, that would be awesome!

  4. What you did has to be the kindest thing I've ever heard of! I'm glad they all had such a great time.

  5. You are awesome Katie. That is all.

  6. This is so amazing! I'm glad Mark had such a great day, and such wonderful friends like you to make it happen! I work for a nonprofit that serves adults with disabilities, and I learn from them every day. They truly are the happiest, kindest people I have ever known.

  7. I love that he got to have his party!

  8. Okay... I confess, I cried the entire time I read this post. Like Mark and you I've been waiting and hoping for this day. So proud with every report of his progress in PT and OT.... he has come so far in a small amount of time !

    I'm so happy that the day went just like you wanted. And it does seem that everyone had a great day ... which is just what Mark wanted!

    The cake is awesome.... just perfect for the day : )

    Blessings for you Katie, your family and to all how care for Mark and his friends.

    More cards to come to help with those yummy shakes !

  9. Oh it was so great to read this. What a heart warming story. I couldn't wait to get up this morning and see how the party went. The cake looked fabulous. I can always see such joy in his face in photos. I just love that.

  10. So glad everything was perfect. Mark deserved a great day surrounded by people who love him.

  11. Agree with the others. Simply awesome!

  12. Would Mark still like to get cards? What an inspirational story!

  13. So glad that Mark got to have his party!! God bless you all!

  14. Katie you're such an inspiration, in so many more ways than one. It looks like Mark had a great time at his party!

  15. You all will be so blessed for your kindness

  16. I've been reading for about a year now; and comment once in a blue moon; but reading this, I teared up. You and your family are so amazing! This warms my heart so much.

  17. What a positively beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it! It warmed my heart.

  18. So glad everything turned out wonderfully for Mark and his special day!


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