August 5, 2016 / Leave a Comment
“Being Autistic I’ve always had difficulty making and keeping friends. I can’t help but feel disappointed when everybody my age goes out with friends or has a big party. It makes me feel like I’m not really worth getting to know” -Josie Eugenie
Let’s let Josie know she’s worth getting to know! You are cordially invited to celebrate Josie’s 24th birthday party with her.
Saturday, October 1 12 PM – 2 PM in PDT
Oaks Amusement Park 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202
RSVP here and wish Josie a Happy Birthday as she will be checking her wall
There is no admission cost to Josie’s party, enjoy the food, drinks, and birthday cake, however, all that attend will be able to purchase a discount deluxe ride bracelet for $10. The deluxe ride bracelet provides unlimited midway rides from 12 till 7 PM, and a roller skating session with conventional skates. Celebrate Josie’s birthday and stay as long as you want after to enjoy Oaks Amusement Park!
Josie loves Lord Of The Rings and is requesting a LOTR costume party. Optional if you want, show up in your favorite LOTR attire!
We are looking to raise 275 towards basic party supplies and a quiet sensory area that’s away from the excitement, in case Josie or any of the attendees with sensory processing disorder gets overwhelmed. Every dollar helps and any money over our goal can also go to help others in need of support. Please contribute here.
Josie was born with a rare progressive connective tissues disorder called Ehlers Danlos syndrome, and autism. However the only thing on her mind right now is her upcoming 24th birthday. This year, like all others, she just wants to celebrate with a big party full of friends and family. Unfortunately, since she’s started school, no matter how many people she invited, only her mom and grandparents, and an occasional cousin or friend of her mother attended.
Josie said, “After my 18th birthday, when I tried to give it one last go and have a big luau themed party and invited tons of people, only my grandmother, mom and one of my mom’s friends showed up. The disappointment of having NOBODY you personally invited to your birthday was too much. They either gave excuses, or didn’t even bother responding. It was heartbreaking. I can’t help but feel disappointed when everybody my age goes out with friends or has a big party. It makes me feel like I’m not really worth getting to know.”
In spite of her age, Josie has a sweet childlike aura. She loves Disney, Pixar, dinosaurs, getting mail, anything Lord of the Rings related, and going to the zoo and amusement park. Her favorite animal is a giraffe. She also loves birthday parties even though she hasn’t had one with friends since school age. Josie says, “To me birthdays should always be a big deal, no matter if you’re 1 or 8 or 15 or 37, 62 or 103! Birthdays are a marker of your life; you’ve made it another year, a little older, a little wiser.”
Josie is also wise beyond her years, and doesn’t let her disabilities stand in her way. She is an avid artist, animal lover, creative dreamer and outdoor enthusiast. She lends her voice in support of all people with disabilities, educating people on what it’s like for her and others, hoping they can see past differences by bringing awareness to life with a disability. She says, “I like being autistic because it means I see things non-autistics never see. But at the same time it means that I’m not like most people which makes people not want to be friends with me. They can’t see past my differences which is such a shame really because the most amazing people I’ve met are the people who, like me, are different. I game online because when you play games online people tend to look past differences and focus on just having fun.
I also enjoy playing board games (I’m good at monopoly!), and games that are played at summer camps, I like a few card games too (cards against humanity is my favorite). I like to play with toys even though I’m “too old” I especially like building type toys like wooden train sets and lego’s and blocks.”
Even though Ehlers Danlos syndrome has taken away some of Josie’s freedom and mobility, her enthusiasm for life persists. A new handcycle attached to her wheelchair allows her to continue walks in the park. As Josie says, “I used to love to hike but it’s too hard for me to do now even with my AFO braces, so I just go to parks with my support workers and enjoy being outside, and swinging when there’s a swingset. I love to swim, and I love going to occupational therapy (even though sometimes it’s hard)”
In the same vein, even though autism has affected some of Josie’s communication skills, her iPad communication program Speak For Yourself ACC assists her in communicating with others from time to time when she gets overwhelmed or is in a large crowd. Josie also uses communication cards she has made up to share when people are sometimes rude to her in public because they don’t understand her. She makes communication cards for others that need them too.
Josie was nominated by Laura Wolfenson, a RISE Family Services Coordinator, to crowdFunnit, a project of the nonprofit Cherab Foundation. crowdFunnit helps to bring awareness about differences to those that are bullied or alienated, while fostering acceptance, compassion, and friendship through open-invite birthday parties. Our program typically only goes up to 18 but we were so touched by Josie’s story we just had to make an exception.
Laura, who has been working with Josie for just over a year says, “She’s a great advocate for all individuals with disabilities including herself. She’s definitely someone who goes above and beyond to make sure people in the community are aware of what it’s like for her on a daily basis living with a disability and bring awareness to people that there are others like her.”
We hope to throw Josie the party of her dreams, and for her to receive a new gaming computer, in front of a crowd of well-wishers is a memory that will dissolve all those disappointing birthdays, when no one showed up.
As one who is more comfortable offering help than taking it, Josie’s remarkable nature and big heart will leave an impression on you because she represents what’s good in our world.
News on Josie’s party from ABC station KATU!
News on Josie’s party from a local paper -the Willamette Week!
Together we can help Josie enjoy the simple pleasure all children deserve, but that she only dreams of experiencing, a happy birthday with friends. You and your family are invited to help make this dream come true.
For those that are not able to attend, Josie loves receiving and opening mail. She loves when her mom and grandmother mail her birthday cards instead of handing them to her, because those are typically the only two cards she gets each year on her birthday. We are hoping that this year she’ll get a few more. You can mail birthday cards to Josie Eugenie through her service coordinator Candice Gage who works for Clackamas County Developmental Disabilities.
Josie’s Birthday C/O Candice Gage
2051 Kaen Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
If you would like to send a gift, Josie’s favorite colors are purple, light blue and light pink. You can find her Amazon “wish list” here and you can also mail them to Josie in care of her service coordinator Candice Gage.