Finally the night before we were supposed to show up, Allen committed to doing it. We talked about it and (somewhat) planned what he would talk about and decided that he was going to pass it off to me so that I could talk about Silent Siren. I was pretty confident that I could discuss Silent Siren without having it all written out so decided that I too, would wing it.
We arrived at the Legion about an hour before it was all supposed to start. Allen had never been there before and instantly tensed up and was hyper vigilant. I was pretty worried that I indeed was going to have to wing more than just my little explanation about Silent Siren. So as I'm getting more and more nervous, I am also trying to calm Allen down and keep him in the moment. Frankie is a life saver in these situations as well. She knows him so well that she instantly gets to work. Thankfully, they were serving a dinner before the program part of the evening which helped get Allen a little more acclimated to the new environment and also distracted him. After the dinner was complete, Allen was actually pretty calm and said he could do it, much to my relief!!
After he was introduced, we both went to the podium and he began his speech. He talked about service dogs and Puppies Behind Bars. He spoke of how much Frankie has changed his life and how she works for him. It was really very educational and I could tell that the audience was really receiving him well. Part of his brain injury though is that he is easily distracted and tends to talk in circles a little bit. (I just had my foot near him where I could gently nudge him to let him know he was wandering.) He did really well. He also got so caught up that he explained Silent Siren before he turned it over to me. Then he remembered to turn it over to me but he had already explained what I was supposed to explain!! It all turned out fine in the end and I was able to explain a little more about our program Silent Siren.
After we were finished, a group called the KC Betty's performed. They were so cute and a lot of fun to watch. Allen got a kick out of their performance but especially their song, Straighten up and Fly Right. His grandma used to sing that song to him and he in turn has sang it to our kids. We all sing it now!! If you've not heard of the Betty's you should definitely check them out http://www.facebook.com/kcbettys!! We are hoping to do some work with them in the future to help promote Silent Siren.
It is so amazing watching Allen come out of the PTSD shell more often. Seeing him with a genuine smile on his face isn't such a rarity anymore. Hearing his deep belly laugh happens more and more! It is hard to put into words how much it means to us all to have a part of him back home with us finally after so long. We are definitely blessed!!