Yes it is! It was designed to be!
I was recently invited to be a part of a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Conference scheduled to be held at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina! I haven’t said anything yet because it is still in the planning stages, but they have the date set: February 26, 2011!
I accepted – the zoo is only about 70 miles from my home. So no flights, and no Baggage Claim! I’m planning to stay away from any Baggage Claim area for a little while!
This will be fun, since I haven’t been to the Zoo in quite a while. Since I was there last (escorting a church youth group in the mid 1990’s) they have added a Botanical Garden and changed a lot of the exhibits. I do hate to see that the polar bears are gone. When I was in grade school we’d take a field trip to the zoo at least once a year, and the Polar Bear exhibit featured a large pool. I’m sure the bears appreciated it, since they are a little overdressed for South Carolina. They also had an underground cavern where you could watch the Polar Bears swim around through a huge plate-glass window in the side of the pool. The cavern always seemed to be closed; they had problems with the window leaking. But I looked at a map of the Zoo and the Polar Bears have been replaced by Grizzlies. I hope they have a pool and a window, for old times sake.
I took my oldest niece to the zoo when she was young, and like a good uncle I tried to convince her that I always thought my brother (her dad) was born in the Monkey exhibit. For some reason she didn’t believe me! Just to make sure, we studied the Monkeys for quite a while but didn’t see him. She said he was at work, but I think he was hiding in the shadows.
Being serious again, the Zoo will be fun, and I’ll get to hang out with a bunch of Cardiac Kids and their parents. We’ll have a blast together…. and if you are visiting Riverbanks Zoo that day, you’ll probably never know any of us are sick kids. We’ll look like a big group just out having fun, just like so many other groups that visit the Zoo. In most cases, a CHD is an invisible disability. You can’t tell we’re sick, and for the most part we adapt well. CHDers learn at an early age that we have to do things a little differently, take it just a step slower, and pace ourselves. We don’t want to be different, but as my father says, “You play the hand you were dealt.” This is the way it is, and we deal with it.
The conference is going to be sponsored by Palmetto Hearts, and you’ll see more details as they become available. If you are a heart family in South Carolina, plan to attend!