The original plan was for the kids to ride in the back of the truck with Allen and Dave and Frankie and Harry (their service dogs), while Meaghan and I rode in the front (where it was warm!)!! We ended up switching that though and had my sister drive the truck (I was afraid I might get distracted and end up running over a tuba player in front of us), Meaghan, Makale, and Abbey rode in the front, with the little kids in the back. I rode on the tail gate while Allen, Frankie, Dave and Harry walked behind us. That way if there was a problem with Allen I could jump off and help.
The little kids were so excited to throw out candy! I went to the store and bought a BUNCH of left over halloween candy on clearance so they would have plenty, or so I thought! They ran out in the first block! The parade ran from 5th for about 6 blocks. They have a small ceremony in the middle of the parade, with a 21 gun salute, short speaker, national anthem, and a fly over. Well, we were stopped right in the intersection, only a block into the parade for the ceremony. If you can imagine this was highly stressful as we are in the middle of downtown, in the middle of an intersection with people everywhere, a fly over, and then the 21 gun salute. Dave had to walk away from it all but was able to take care of himself and get away. Allen sort of froze. I was able to talk to him throughout though and keep him here. It was amazing! I was pretty nervous while we were going through it, but it was great for him to make it through. What a boost in confidence!! He was even able to enjoy the rest of the parade after we started moving again!! I just walked with him the rest of the way which was actually pretty cool!
Since our show had just aired the night before everyone was yelling our names and clapping for us. It was a bit overwhelming and kind of weird, but it was good that we could be there. I think it helped for people to be able to see us and wave to us to make it seem more normal. I was so proud of Allen and Dave for doing what they had to in order to take care of themselves. Not long ago, neither one of them would have been able to take care of themselves in that situation. Proud of you guys!!
It did take a toll on Allen later that day. We came home and he had a headache and needed some rest. Once again though, he took care of himself which is such a huge improvement. He went into his quiet room, took a little nap and regrouped and then was able to join us again later that afternoon. We still had a house full of company and he really enjoyed them. It was so great to see such a huge improvement in a year's time. Last year at this time I wasn't sure if he would ever be able to live with us in a home environment again or if we would have to find somewhere for him to live long term.
It just goes to show that God is good. He has a plan for us if we will just take the time to listen. Allen put in so much hard work that wasn't easy, but he is so much better now because of it. Today on Veteran's Day, 11-11-11, I want to thank Allen for his self less sacrifice and service to our great nation as well as all of the other veteran's past, present, and future. America is great because of you! Allen you are my true hero!