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2013 O’Night Divine Christmas Celebration
December 7, 2013
During this modern day Christmas season it is easy to be distracted by the ‘stuff’ that surrounds us. From shopping for the latest toys and tech items to getting the perfect decorations for the house, the hustle and bustle creeps in and takes priority, making it a challenge to connect with the heart of the season.
On December 7th, over 500 Pujols Family Foundation supporters came together to focus on the true meaning of Christmas—Christ’s presence in our world. In the same way God has given Christ to us, we are called to share Christ with others. We at the Foundation see Christ’s love most clearly in the families we serve—both here in the US and abroad in the Dominican Republic. The 9th Annual O’ Night Divine Christmas Celebration provides an opportunity for us to thank those who have served alongside us and invite new members to join in the joy that comes with sharing Christ’s love.
While the evening brought out many St. Louis celebrities including Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa, and Ryan Coyne among many others, the true stars of the evening were the young adults with Down syndrome who gave us a glimpse into their daily lives through a spectacular series of video interviews. The room filled with laughter and smiles as several individuals with Down syndrome shared favorite foods, most exciting holidays, vacations, and their very busy social schedules. There was a clear sense that we are all more alike than different. However, that sense of community and joy was jolted as the young adults recounted their fears of being treated differently, the bullies they are faced with, and the hurtful stares and comments directed at them because of their Down syndrome. Suddenly, we were faced with the stark reality that while our hearts and souls are “more alike than different,” those with Down syndrome are often treated with disdain. All too often, ignorant individuals fail to see the gifts and talents of children and adults with Down syndrome. Watch YouTube video.
In the same way we seek to show the world the talents and abilities of our Down syndrome friends, we also seek to connect those living in the U.S. with impoverished people in the Dominican Republic. Through a special documentary ‘sneak peek’ produced by Coolfire Originals, guests were brought along on a journey of healing and hope through the Foundation’s most recent medical mission trip. The contrast between medical care offered in the states versus what is available in the Dominican Republic, a very underdeveloped nation, is startling. Something as simple as asthma, which is easily monitored and treated in the U.S., can prove deadly in the Dominican. With dusty floors, poor living conditions, and a lack of access to effective healthcare, it is easy to feel incredible separation both in miles and in experience from the Dominican people. But as we watch a mother care for her ill teenage son, and a toddler severely burned from toxic poisoning, we cannot deny the universal experience of human suffering.
Whether it is in relation to Down syndrome or Dominican families, the phrase “more alike than different” perhaps best sums up the purpose of the Pujols Family Foundation. We exist to remind the world that at our core we are all similar. We are all children of God, loved by Him and given the gift of Christ our Savior, and we are called to care for one another. During this Christmas season, The Pujols Family Foundation invites everyone to celebrate God’s love and the gifts He has given us, especially the gift to share His blessings by serving others.