September 4, 2013

The Henry Owl

The original Henry owl.
Since learning to sew at age 8, Kaitlin has handcrafted birthday and Christmas gifts for her family and friends.  This award winning seamstress has blessed her siblings with Narnia costumes, her sisters with wristlets and the men of the house with ties.  Just to name a few of her creative geniuses.  Her web store, A Stitch In Lives, was born in 2012 when Kaitlin was looking for a way to raise money for mission work.  On her site 50% of all sales are donated to missionaries around the world.

In 2012, while I was expecting our 10th baby, the kids nicknamed the latest model, Henry.  For Christmas that year, Kaitlin designed an owl.  I liked it so well, I soon asked her to make one for a friend who was adopting a son from China.  We all encouraged Kaitlin to add the owls to her web store and the Henry Owl was born.  

After a tumultuous pregnancy and in the wake of much drama the Henry arrived on April 28, 2013.  Within hours of his birth our beautiful boy was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.  Shortly after receiving his diagnosis Kaitlin decided to donate the proceeds of the Henry Owl to the annual Down Syndrome Buddy Walk hosted by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. of Frederick, County.  

When most organizations raise money for various causes the majority of the funds go to administrative expenses.  But not the Buddy Walk.  Every single penny raised by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. goes directly to better the lives of people with Down Syndrome.  The funds for this year will go to host The Techniques for Success conference which educates teachers, parents and school administrators to improve education for those with Down Syndrome.  Funds will also go to provide scholarships for people with Down Syndrome.   

The most exciting part is this, though.  Proceeds from this year's walk will go to host the camp I can Shine.  Most people identify Down Syndrome with learning delays.  But you might not have considered the physical boundaries faced by many children with Down Syndrome.  Health issues and hypotonia coupled with developmental delays make it impossible for 95% of children with Down Syndrome to learn how to ride a bike.  Camp I Can Shine helps children with disabilities accomplish this same right of passage most of us take for granted.  
A child learns to ride a bike at an I Can Shine camp.
For most people bike riding is just a leisure activity. For people with Down Syndrome, who can rarely pass a driving test, biking can be the means which enables individuals to get to school or work and thus earn the independence most people assume will be part of their child's future. Biking can also help to prevent health issues caused by excess weight as a result of the slower metabolism for people with Down Syndrome. Additionally, riding a bike can be part of the very necessary physical conditioning necessary to combat hypotonia which makes biking, and other physical activities, difficult to begin with.  

Next summer, with the proceeds from the 2013 Buddy Walk F.R.I.E.N.D.S. of Frederick County will be hosting I Can Shine, not just for kids with Down Syndrome, but for children in our area with any disability that has made it difficult for them to learn how to ride a bike.

Henry tests all owls for softness.
Our Henry is just 4 months old, so he won’t benefit from the camp any time soon but we look forward to helping other children and perhaps one day, Addison will learn to ride a bike, too.  The Henry Owl typically sells for $20.  Now through December 1st he will be selling for half off.  That’s just $10 each!  70% of all sales will be given to the Buddy Walk.

And you can help!  Our family is busy sewing away.  We hope to donate 100 owls to the walk.  That is $700 for a great cause.   So take a minute and pop over to A Stitch in Lives.  These guys are great gifts.  There are so many to choose from and every single one is uniquely sewn right here at my kitchen table by the loving hands of Henry’s big sisters.  After you’ve placed your order, don’t stop there.  Please post about the Henry Owl on your blog, facebook, google plus or twitter page.  And just in case helping out the Ds community and making the Wachters smile isn’t enough reason to write about Henry Owls, how about this???  Kaitlin is offering a 25% discount on any non Henry Owl purchase from now through December 1st.  Just in time for holiday gift giving!   To get your discount just leave a link to your post in the comment section of this post.

Please note, web sales will be suspended starting September 15th so the Parliament can travel to their vendor booth for the Buddy Walk.  Any unsold owls will return after October 15th.  If you have your heart set on one be sure to grab him now!  


  1. Kat, I didn't know Henry was a Down's Syndrome baby. I don't know how I missed it; especially since our friends in San Antonio also had a Down's Syndrome baby just a few months before yours was born. Anyway, heading over to get an owl. I'll share this on Facebook and my blog too.

    1. Hi, Jen.

      I was wondering because I text when Addison was born and never heard back from you. I know you we're traveling at the time and thought maybe that was why. We feel that somehow The Lord was using baby Taylor to help prepare us for Addison's diagnosis. I know his mother must be very busy but if she would ever be interested I would very much like to correspond with her.

      Our pastor asked us to share Addison's story and talk about DS at Henry's dedication in August. You can find a video in the post "Addison's story" if you would like to know more.

      We are so grateful for your encouragement and many prayers on our behalf. I also think daily of the beautiful email you wrote me in the spring. I can not tell you how much it meant to me those last few months. Countless times I started to reply to you but I never could find an opportunity to tell you all that was on my heart. Thank you for your love and kindness.

      I am so glad you like the owls and thank you for your support to Kaitlin but even more importantly to the DS community. I know what you mean. Every time I look at one I think, " this is my favorite." And then next time I see them I think "this one is my favorite."

      Love to you all,


  2. I just want you to know I had a really hard time choosing one. Wish I could have gotten all of the ones I liked. :)

  3. It's been too long since I've read my favorite blogs. How did I miss the Ds diagnosis? I can't think of a better family for God to choose to gift such a child to. You are all truly blessed.