Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Your Vote Counts!

We'll all be hearing about a lot of voting in months to come, but this piece about voting has nothing to do with our current political situation. Instead, it is about an opportunity to support a wonderful cause with your vote -- one near and dear to the heart of one of my dear friends, Judy Winter.


Judy was named one of L'Oreal's "Women of Worth," one of ten women who advocate for specific charities. Judy's is the Eric RicStar Winter Music Therapy Camp, which Judy and her husband Dick started, in conjunction with Michigan State University's Community Music School.


Judy and I met years ago when she volunteered to write some articles for the magazine I edited at WKAR. She later was hired as an advertising salesperson for the magazine and went on to work for the station for a number of years after, continuing to volunteer for on-air pledge hosting after she left. And during those years -- and the decades since --- we have been good friends.


Friends who have laughed together, played together, had more than a few lunches and celebrated more than a few holidays in each others' company.  When Rick had his surgery last winter, Judy was there with the lasagna. We've been through each others' serious illnesses, deaths of parents, and shed more than a few tears together. And yes, there have been good times, too; parties with our wonderful circle of friends as well as the beautiful wedding of Judy and Dick's daughter, Jenna.


These photos are some of my favorites from our friendship. Yes, L'Oreal took some lovely photos with a far better photographer or camera than any of these. You can see them on the Women of Worth website. But I like the ones here most of all. They are our story.


Judy left WKAR nineteen years ago, when Eric Winter was born with a challenging cerebral palsy diagnosis. I saw first-hand what parents who have an infant, then child, with special needs must deal with each and every day.


It's hard work. Back breaking work at times. Judy has the battle scars to show for it. She earned her stripes fighting for inclusion in the public schools, continually advocating for parents with children who have special needs. And she and Dick were wonderful parents to both Eric and his older sister Jenna, providing them with opportunities to enrich their lives.

One such opportunity for Eric was MSU's Community Music School, which offered music therapy classes. Eric loved music. I have many special memories of spending Christmas Eves with the Winters, Rick playing his guitar, Eric listening in rapt attention.


And smiling. A million dollar smile.


During Eric's life, Judy continued her role as a journalist, writing columns on special needs and eventually the book "Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs." She chose to be an advocate for special needs, through her writing and speaking at conferences and to groups. Her commitment has made those who know her (and no doubt those who have only read her work) more aware and sensitive to the challenges so many of us face. For Judy it's all about the ability, not the disability.


When Eric died at the age of twelve, Judy, Dick and MSU's Cindy Edgerton co-founded the Eric "RicStar" Winter Music Therapy Camp. It provides opportunities for immersion in musical expression for those of all ages. The camp was created to honor Eric's life and legacy and offers one-on-one support to nurture individual abilities while also focusing on inclusion. Many campers have returned year after year and funding provided by the Winters and others has made many scholarships available to ease the financial burden and give all an opportunity to participate, regardless of age.


At the end of the camp, the campers perform a concert for parents and guests. I've been to more than one of these and the smiles are like bottled sunshine.

More than 1,500 campers have attended the camp and more than $80,000 in financial aid has been given to make camp possible for the attendees. Volunteers and therapy animals abound. The camp serves as a reminder of music's lasting power to change lives.

When Judy was selected as one of L'Oreal's Women of Worth, the camp received $10,000, as did the charities of the other nine finalists. By voting (and you can vote daily for the next few weeks) one of these groups will receive an additional $25,000. I think you can guess what I'm voting for.


So, please check out the site HERE and I hope you'll vote for Judy and RicStar's Camp. (The direct link to vote for Judy is HERE!) You can vote daily throughout the voting period, which continues for the next few weeks. Voting instructions are at the site.

And, if you are interested in learning more about the camp for you, a family member or a friend, please check it out HERE. Camp takes place every June at Michigan State University in East Lansing.


Help Christmas come early for RicStar's Camp! Vote early and often!'

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42 comments:

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

What a wonderful friend and woman who has certainly deserves being named one of the L'oreal Women of the Year. I voted and wish her well no matter how the voting turns out.

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, what a wonderful post. Your friend, Judy is truly a special soul. Having spent 32 years in public schools in VA, I saw the struggles, on a daily basis, of Children with Special Needs ~ as well as their parents and teachers.

This post hits home to me as it reminds me of a special student I came to know named Jamie. I was the office manager at the school where Jamie attended and Jamie was my student office assistant. He was a remarkable and bright young man and lived longer than many children with cerebral palsy. He actually finished high school and 1 year of college. His struggles and those of his parents would make an average person run and hide. So, yes, I will definitely vote for your friend. Again, thank you for this post and the reminder it brought to me of my young friend. Like Eric, Jamie will be forever missed.

Terra said...

I voted, your friend has a wonderful music camp and vision and I can see why you cherish her.

The French Hutch said...

Oh Jeanie, your friend is such special lady and certainly deserving of this award. I've seen the work these groups do and it makes so much difference int the lives of children and their families. We have one such center/school here and it is supported by the community our citizens. Rise Center, link http://risecenter.ua.edu/about.html so you can read about it. I'm off to vote for this special lady.....

Valerie-Jael said...

Great lady, great cause. Off to vote. Hugs, Valerie

R's Rue said...

Will vote.

Carol said...

My vote is in! I am thrilled to vote for someone that has fought for special needs children. God Bless Her!

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

What an inspiring story. And how blessed you both are to have such a deep, lasting friendship. That's not the norm today in our 'mobile', transient society. Thanks for sharing her story - off to vote!

Lynne said...

As soon as “my hello” is posted here I will return to make my vote.
Sending this on to a few I know might enjoy your post,
I liked hearing about your friendship . . .
Judy Winter is grace and beauty . . .

Lynne said...

As soon as “my hello” is posted here I will return to make my vote.
Sending this on to a few I know might enjoy your post,
I liked hearing about your friendship . . .
Judy Winter is grace and beauty . . .

Lowcarb team member said...

A truly wonderful post Jeanie.
Such an inspirational story
I've just been and voted before leaving this comment :)

All the best Jan

BeachGypsy said...

This is a lovely post and I love the picture of you two hugging!!!---very cute! I was enjoying reading about Eric and then as I read, I saw he didn't make it. so so Sorry for that loss. This is surely a very worthwhile cause.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I hope she secures the greatest number of votes. I have a close friend, now 72 years old, who has dealt with cerebral palsy all his life, so I have at least some understanding what Judy has experienced. Life is not always fair, is it?

William Kendall said...

I've voted. That is quite a story.

Sandra Cox said...

What a wonderful post. I voted.

Prims By The Water said...

Great wonderful story. Just voted for her.Janice

Marilyn Miller said...

What a wonderful friend and caring person. I voted for her.

My name is Erika. said...

Wow. Judy sounds like an amazing woman. I cast my vote (you do know how to write a post to sway people. Smile.) And lucky you to be her friend also. Hugs-Erika

Pam Richardson said...

Wonderful and heartwarming story! I will be voting for your lovely friend and thanks for sharing her story!

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

What a fantastic woman, Jeanie! I happily voted for her.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

What an inspiring story. I've just voted before writing this comment. I certainly hope for her camp that she wins, because you are a great inspiration and wonderful influence. I know she has been one on you and Rick, too.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

What a very special person and wonderful friend. And your tribute to her shows your love, and also your writing talents!

Marie Rayner said...

What a remarkable Woman Jeanie. I wish that I could vote for her! Sadly as I am not a resident of the US I can't. I wish for the best for her! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful example of the type of person we should all be trying to be with us! xoxo

Running on empty said...

I voted for this great cause. Big fan of music therapy.

Iris Flavia said...


A wonderful, beautiful, loyal friend you have!
That is very wise and touching, "for the ability and not the disability"...
Heartbreaking. Only 12 years old. How can a Mother cope with it, I wonder.
The Camp is a great idea. Oh, where does this power come from to do this...
Very, very impressive.
I´m certainly one of the voters, my respect sure makes me (the direct link didn´t work here, though, gave a 404.)

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

What great post and story about your friend. She deserves to win. I will go and vote for her. Wishing you a happy day!

Karen Ann said...

I'll vote after leaving this comment - congratulations to a wonderful woman so deserving.

Mary Rose's said...

Ab-so-lutely Judy! I'll continue to vote daily in support of your phenomenal friend. xo

Miss Val's Creations said...

What an amazing woman Judy is! Life really should be about "the ability, not the disability" in order to live the most fulfilled life possible. I just put in my vote. I hope Judy and RicStar's camp win the well deserved funds and praise.

crackercrumblife said...

This post made me cry! So many emotions here for me. What a great mother and advocate for her son- truly an inspiration, especially for me, a mother of a boy with CP. This definitely has my vote, and I will pass it on!

And you know I will be checking out that book and camp for my own kiddo. I have them on my list from when you mentioned them to me before.

Again, amazing woman and organization!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm a big supporter of folks with special needs - my sister's son is Developmentally Disabled. I voted and will let my sister know about the vote too!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What an amazing woman! She has my vote. In our local newspaper, I read about a music group at the local high school for special needs kids. I'm so glad that programs like that and Judy's exist because music can be so healing and helpful for many.

My heart goes out to Judy and her husband over the loss of their child at age 12. My heart has always hurt for parents who have lost a child but you have a whole new understanding of what that pain might be like once you have your own child.

Tammie Lee said...

That is a heart warming and stirring story. Off to vote now.

CHERI said...

Judy sounds like an absolutely amazing person. I just voted for her!!!! I didn't read the other profiles but I'm sure they are all deserving...I do hope though that Judy wins:) My heart goes out to her in the loss of her child. Having lost a young child myself (years ago), I feel a connection to her. May God continue to bless her in all her endeavors. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! Please come by again sometimes:)

krishna said...

Beautiful story. My vote is in.

Sandra Cox said...

Voted again.

Iris Flavia said...

You can really vote again with giving the same e-mail-address. How come? Does it count or do I take another one next time, I wonder...

Red Rose Alley said...

Your friend sounds awesome, Jeanie. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of her precious son, and that is a sweet photo of both of them. Her book sounds really good and interesting. And this is a very nice picture of you and your dear friend.

~Sheri

Little Wandering Wren said...

What an amazing group of women have been nominated. You are a wonderful friend Jeanie, how beautifully you tell Judy's story. I've voted for Judy, she would be a worthy winner. Wishing her lots of luck with this and a massive hug to you both. The world needs more people like you two :)
Wren x

Sami said...

What an amazing lady and great friend. I've cast my vote and hope that she wins, as it's such a great project. How sad that they lost their son at such a young age :(

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a wonderful friend and wonderful mother that Judy is! How sad that she lost her son so young, but so wonderful she shared her talents with others and founded this very special camp to help other children. I have a disabled adult nephew and I know how valuable this type of outreach is and how these programs help families. I voted for Judy and will return to vote again often until the contest ends.

Katie Mansfield said...

Congratulations to her. What an honor to be nominated. I hope she wins. She sounds like a special person.

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