Happy Birthday, Wegmans!

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Jake at the June 14, 2015 Wegmans Alexandria store opening

As an “Autism mom”, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of Jake’s “unusual interests”. Some of these interests, we’ve tried to discourage, such as Jake’s overwhelming desire to touch, sniff, and even put his mouth on other people’s feet … even complete strangers!

Thankfully, feet have taken a back seat to other more productive interests.  One such interest is of all things culinary!

Jake loves to make menus, to write out and illustrate recipes, to cook (chicken taquitos are his specialty), to bake (he can crack a mean egg), and, of course, to grocery shop.

One of Jake’s favorite grocery destinations is Wegmans! We’ve been going since he was a little guy when they opened their 1st location in Fairfax County, Virginia. I loved the store, of course, with it’s great variety of both “staples” as well as unique, specialty items. And being able to get a bite to eat AND do your shopping … well you didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to go.  Plus, as a mom, I always appreciated the “Helping Hands” out to the car, as well as the parking deck … these are the types of things that help to make grocery shopping with the kids manageable, especially in less than ideal weather.

But, back to Jake and HIS love for Wegmans.

It was September 2010 … Jake had just tuned 6 years old.  We were attending a Special Needs family movie night hosted by the Faith and Family Foundation. We knew that pizza and “movie snacks” were going to be provided, and when we arrived, we discovered that the food was being provided by the Leesburg Wegmans.

Wegmans Leesburg provided the yummy pizza & snacks!

Jake saw the balloons as we arrived and immediately said “Wegmans”! Jake played, had some pizza and snacks, and was having a grand time. Shortly before they began the movie, Washington Redskins Pro Football Hall of Fame great Art Monk arrived to say a few words and take some pictures.  I was beyond thrilled.  Jake was “meh” about the whole thing (posing for a photo meant having to stop playing), and miss Sofia was happy … she raised her arms in a toddler’s universal sign for “pick me up”, and Mr. Monk did just that … class act and good sport all the way!


So, following our brush with greatness, I spotted a group of the Leesburg Wegmans employees. I pointed them out to Jake … “Jake, do you want to take a picture with the Wegmans people?”, I asked. “YESSSS!!!” was the response, and so we took a few snaps. To Jake, the Wegmans folks were absolute rock stars!!

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So, he doesn’t look very excited, but he was pumped to meet “The Wegmans people”!

Following his photo op, one of the folks from Wegmans gave him a Wegmans paper hat.  He proceeded to wear that hat for 2 weeks straight until it was a rumpled mess.

All aboard … next stop, Wegmans!

About a week after the movie night, we went out to visit the Leesburg Wegmans and to take printed copies of the photo of the staff members with Jake. They were so tickled by Jake’s enthusiasm for Wegmans that they presented him with a “Helping Hands” polo shirt, an apron, and a name badge!

Jake in his Wegmans regalia

Over the years, I have been fortunate to find a few Wegmans ball caps for Jake at the thrift store, and to have been given one by a friend who works at the Fairfax location.

Jake’s “Wegmania” hit an all time high this summer when he had the opportunity to attend his very FIRST Wegmans store opening at their Alexandria location! We were there bright and early, ready for the doors to open at 7:00 in the morning!

All the excitement outside was no match for what happened a bit later … when Jake met Danny Wegman!!!

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Danny Wegman with future employee, Jake!

To top off the exciting day, we had lunch in Wegmans onsite full-service restaurant, The Pub.

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Opening day at The Pub at Wegmans Alexandria

As it turns 100, we want to wish Wegmans a very Happy Birthday!

“How wonderful life is while you’re in the world!” – Elton John/Bernie Taupin




From IDEA to high expectations, opportunity, and beyond! #IDEA40

On Nov. 29, 1975, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guaranteed access to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to every child with a disability. Subsequent amendments, as reflected in the IDEA, have led to an increased emphasis on access to the general education curriculum, the provision of services for young children from birth to five, transition planning and accountability for the achievement of students with disabilities.


Thanks to IDEA, children like Jake not only have the opportunity to have an education that meets a their unique needs, but also an education that prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living. In Jake’s case, this may take the form of a career in the culinary arts … Jake has often expressed a desire to work for Wegmans, and more recently, at Wegmans’ “The Pub” restaurant.


Jake began his academic journey in December 2006 shortly before turning 2 1/2 years old. It’s not a stretch to say there was hesitation on my part, putting my “baby” on a school bus, but, I see now what a great gift IDEA has been to Jake and our entire family.

I am also thankful for the establishment of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and their role in educating, training, and supporting parents like myself. I am so appreciative of PTIs, I now work for Virginia’s, which is called PEATC. I am happy to be in a position to put my Library and Information Science background coupled with my personal experience as a parent of a child with a disability to good use!

Happy 40th Birthday, IDEA … I can’t wait to see what you look like in another 5 to 10 years!!