March 29, 2010

It's Great to be an Auburn Tiger!

And here's just another example...

Being an Auburn Tiger and having had an aunt with Down's Syndrome, this article especially warmed my heart. Just a little happy for your Monday. ENJOY!

Dreams Do Come True
by Katy Ruth Camp
The Marietta Daily Journal

EAST COBB - "I feel like a princess," Casey Carroll, 19, said as she walked to the limousine that was to take her to dinner and her prom at the Fox Theatre. Her mother clicked her camera every five seconds, looking for the perfect shot after an hour of staged photos. Casey Carroll, dressed in a floral gown she bought days after being asked to the prom last summer in the midst of her uncontrollable excitement, smiled as she turned to her mother and said what most teenage girls have said to their mothers at least once: "Mom, stop. You're embarrassing me." But Casey Carroll was not like most girls at the Lassiter High School prom. She was not the prom queen, she was not looking forward to any big after-party, and she was ready to step out of her high heels before she even got into her limo. "When Casey was little, me and her father just thought she would probably never get to go to the prom, because we just weren't sure anyone would ask her," said Sue Ann Carroll, Casey Carroll's mother. "Not only is she getting to go, but she has two great dates. To see that, and to see her so happy, I can't tell you how much that means to us." That's because Casey Carroll, full of laughter, jokes and smiles, was born with Down Syndrome. And as much love as Casey Carroll gives, she receives even more.

"She's my girl," Casey Carroll's brother, Kevin Carroll, said as he stood near his sister, dressed in his tuxedo. Kevin Carroll is a junior offensive lineman at Auburn University, and has always had a close relationship with his little sister, even giving up his free afternoons as a Lassiter student to sit with her at lunch. "I can honestly say knowing her has made me a better person. She's waited so long for this, I'm just really happy for her."

Kevin Carroll would have taken his sister to her prom, without any hesitation. No need, though, as she had a date most Lassiter girls would have loved to have. Philip Lutzenkirchen, a former Lassiter and current Auburn football star, told Casey Carroll he would take her to her prom last father's day, as the Lutzenkirchen and Carroll families celebrated the holiday together. The two families have been close ever since Kevin Carroll and Lutzenkirchen became friends as Lassiter football teammates.

"Casey was just upset talking about it because she said she wanted to go to prom but probably wouldn't get to because no one would invite her. So Philip told her he didn't get to go to his prom, so he'd be happy to come back from school and take her," Sue Ann Carroll said. "I pulled him to the side later and just said that was sweet but he didn't have to do that, but he was insistent and said he would be happy to."

Kevin Carroll also came back to his home town to travel with Casey Carroll to her prom with Lutzenkirchen's sister, Ann, as his date. But the weekend was not short of drama, as Casey Carroll had a reaction to a medication on Friday and broke out in hives, head to toe, with a 102 degree fever. She spent Friday in tears, afraid she would not be able to have her dream day on Saturday as Sue Ann Carroll took her to two different doctors, desperately searching for help.

Luckily, with a combination of new medicine, love and prayers, Casey Carroll was well enough to have her day in the limelight. But Lutzenkirchen was not as lucky, when he received a concussion during Auburn's Saturday morning football scrimmage. After visiting the doctor, it was apparent he would not be feeling well and would not make it in time for photos, but that did not stop him from coming.

"I told her I would take her, so I'm going to do that," Lutzenkirchen said, as he traveled from Auburn to Marietta on Saturday evening. "We just have a special relationship. She makes me crack up, and she has that gift where she just lights everyone up. She deserves a great prom."

And even though Lutzenkirchen was not able to make the photo session, Casey Carroll had another date as 25-year-old Chris Melka, the son of her life-long swim coach Barbara Melka, got his hair cut and dressed in his tuxedo on an hour's notice to be Casey Carroll's stand-in. He held her hand as she walked from one photo location to another, telling her she looked beautiful.

"Casey's one of the most popular kids in the school. The teachers, students, everyone will tell you that," Tommy Carroll, Casey Carroll's father and a football coach at Lassiter, said. "I'll take her to Publix every Sunday and they all know her and love her. Everyone loves Casey. She's hard not to love."

Tommy and Sue Ann Carroll said the entire Lassiter community has come together to support their daughter on her big day. The parents wanted to get her a limousine for her big night, but were disappointed when they found out it would cost a staggering $900.

So when Kyle Cooper of Property Masters and Corey Agee of the law firm Agee Fisher Barrett found out that Casey would not be going to the prom in a limo like many of the other prom attendees, they pitched in with other Lassiter alumni to pay for her limo, as well as flowers and a dinner gift card.

Casey Carroll will graduate in May, after which her parents said they will expect her to get a job and pay rent for her room at their home. "We've raised her just like we've raised our other three kids," Sue Ann Carroll said. "But I have to say she's the least of our worries. She's taught us to be more patient, kind and accepting. We wouldn't be the people we are now without her." As the limousine pulled away, Sue Ann Carroll wiped her eyes and smiled. "She told me all day she's a woman now. But she's still my little girl."

© 2010

March 24, 2010

All dogs go to heaven - especially THIS one.

Death is a complicated thing to handle for those who are left behind. No doubt about it. I don't know anyone that hasn't had to deal with it in one way or another. For animal lovers, losing a pet can be, and usually is, like losing a child. That is what we are going through right now...

Dude lost his precious Maddy last week, and it has been absolutely devastating. Maddy was almost 16, and she and Dude have been together since she was only a few weeks old. He adopted her in the nick of time from an animal shelter in 1994, and, since then, they have been virtually inseparable. Man's best friend, indeed. Maddy has been by Dude's side through all of the peaks and valleys along his path, and was loved, I'm convinced, more than any dog in the history of the world.

Though I didn't quite spend a whole year with Maddy, she quickly secured a place in my heart forever. She accepted Beasley and me into her family with Dude and Foster without hesitation, and was always so sweet and loving to us. As the only two girls in the pack, we bonded right away. I took her for manicures and to get her hair did (grammatical error INTENDED), and we shared a lot of girl talk. She was always an independent woman and wanted to do things for herself even when her aging body started to fail her. She was particular too. This gal knew what she liked. She's been known to jam to Smashing Pumpkins on more than one occassion, and she considered her favorite "chefs" - Miss Wendy, Miss Krystal, Kenny (Rogers), and Ronald (you know the one) - to be among her close personal friends. In fact, I think she had at least one friend in every species walking the earth, and I'm sure she is missed by each and every one of them.

If you have room in your life for a pet, particularly a dog, they teach you so much about yourself and bless your life in ways beyond what seems possible. Certainly, it's not always sunshine and roses. In fact, sometimes it's CRAP! LITERALLY. But even in those more trying moments, they are teaching us patience, tolerance, restraint, and showing us just how much we can really handle. All they want is to be loved. That's it. It's that simple. If you can give them your love, they will give you a friendship so loyal and true and will work everyday to show how much they love you in return. As heartbroken as we are when they leave us, we were even more blessed just to have had them in the first place.

Yes, death is a complicated thing...and so is love. Dude loved Maddy so incredibly much and did everything he possibly could to keep her with us as long as possible. He gave her a happy, healthy, safe, and long life that was full of love and the kind of companionship that is rare even in human relationships. Maddy had the heart of a lion and was one of the sweetest, sassiest, toughest, and bravest souls I've ever encountered. I am so thankful that Dude brought her into my life. I consider myself lucky to have known her even if for a short time and even luckier knowing I have a person in my life who is capable of loving her as much as he did and always will.

Maddy, we miss you so much every single day. I will keep the promises I made to you...the ones I whispered in your ear. Thank you for everything you taught us and for your loyalty, your friendship, and most of all your love. You will always be a part of what made us who we are together and as individuals.


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