I first met Lara Fleming three years ago at a local gym. Our boys had just signed on to do competitive gymnastics and the two of us were like two mama deer in headlights. We had ZERO clue what we were doing and felt like we were not cut out to be the aspiring Olympics moms that our boys wanted us to be. We spent our first away weekend meet together and knew instantly that we were soul sisters. Our approach to sports, parenting and life were very similar. Lara is one of the smartest, most stylish and most hilarious moms I’ve ever met. Her humor is dry and very sarcastic, I found it refreshingly familiar – umm, well exactly like mine. We would often complete each other’s late night text threads (probably after a glass or two of wine:-) with an even funnier one-liner. I absolutely adore this woman – she makes me laugh out loud every time I hang with her!
Lara’s son, Noah, fell right off his mama’s tree. He is super smart and witty and a fierce competitor. I had no idea that he was facing daily lifelong struggles. I did however, catch a glimpse of his super anxious mom at each stressful gym meet, and I couldn’t figure out why she was such a nervous wreck after each rotation. I chalked it up to just being a regular gymnastics mom – it’s a very frightening sport to watch your kid compete in.
Fast forward a year later. Noah had recently quit gymnastics and I really didn’t understand why. His previous year was huge for him and he had gotten so good at the sport. Lara said it was too stressful for Noah and his anxiety level was too high. I didn’t press for more information. A few weeks later, I ran into Lara at Flywheel. She said she wanted to chat and fill me in on Noah. It was that moment that I knew something was seriously wrong. She shared her journey that I’m about to share with you. But she also shared something very personal and very terrifying. She shared an audio of Noah having what I thought was a really exaggerated tantrum. Until I listened a few seconds longer. That audio still haunts me to this day, knowing Lara and other moms like her have to face that every single day. It brought me to my knees in prayer – for Noah, for Lara, and for every other family dealing with a very misunderstood disease called PANDAS/PANS.
Recently, Lara invited me to dinner with Traci Andrews, another mom with a child battling PANDAS. They shared their journeys with me as well as information about an upcoming race to raise awareness for the disease. I knew exactly what I needed to do to help them – share their stories with all of Smarty Charlotte in hopes that we can help them make great changes for this disease. We need to support these amazing Smarty mamas and attend their first ever PRAI Awareness Walk & Fun Run on September 16th and shout from the rooftops about PANDAS/PANS. They need our help, Smarty Charlotte. They need us to pay attention to the signs they outline below and create conversations – with educators, healthcare providers and other moms. You’ll be surprised that once you start talking about PANDAS, you’ll find that you know quite a few families who have been silently struggling with this disease. It’s time to end the silence.
Meet Lara & Traci – the biggest warriors in all of the QC. These women are strong and brave, and I couldn’t be more proud to introduce them to you today. Read More →