Robert Bolling and his wife, Dian, who live in Roanoke have 3 children. All 3 of the boys suffer with Fragile X. Fragile X syndrome is a rare genetic abnormality that causes profound learning, speech and language problems. People with it have short attention spans, low IQs, difficulty making eye contact and an inability to communicate or adjust to change.
Their oldest son, Austen,is graduating high school. Although the Bolling boys do not receive services through the Greater Richmond ARC, it reminded Doug, the director, of all the families who are loving, tireless advocates of their children, and why the ARC is committed to serving their clients and their families every day.
Robert and Dian are extremely positive, upbeat parents. Along with their boys, they have faced huge challenges over the years (both made significant career changes to be closer to their boys on a daily basis), and Robert’s observation on making the “invisible…VISABLE” is truly inspirational.
Robert reached out to his friends on Facebook, after hearing of all the graduation parties being planned. Becoming more aware of none of these parties including his son, his sense of alienation and loneliness grew and he decided to take action. Since nobody inquired about Bolling’s son Austen, a senior at Patrick Henry High School, it was time to do something on his own.
This is a great example of how he and Dian work hard every day to make sure their sons can enjoy happy lives like everyone else.
Here is what Robert said : “Many of you, my friends, know I have 3 sons with a brain disorder called Fragile X. It was a gene passed on through the family. One of my sons, Austen, graduates next Friday. He does not have many friends. I can count them on one hand. Needless to say, that is painful to me when I have so many friends. A few weeks ago, I was eating lunch with some close relatives and they were talking about graduation and all the stuff they were doing for their friends’ kids and no mention of Austen until I said something. I call the challenged the ‘invisible.’ I want to make him visible. AUSTEN, ALEX, and CONNOR are awesome young men, so what I am asking is if any one of you, my friends who have the time, please send Austen a graduation card…he deserves it. Please find a way in your heart to make him ‘VISIBLE.’ 2343 Circle Dr. Roanoke, Virginia 24018. Thank you.”
Well the response has been incredible! Check out the pictures below, the result of the Bolling’s many friends who sent graduation cards to Austen from all over the country.
Robert followed up and shared : “Let me just say….Wow!!! We are moved by all of you !! This made our year and I am indebted to all of you, mine and Austen’s friends!!”
Graduation happened, the cards are still coming in and Austen and his family are so touched. Let’s keep it going, it doesn’t have to stop!
How can you join? Send a note or a card to:
Austen Bolling, 2343 Circle Drive SW, Roanoke VA 24018.
Editor’s Note- This story was sent to by our friends at The Greater Richmond Arc and I am thrilled to share it. Being able to help spread the word of such a feel good story, is one of the best parts of this site!