Three days after last Christmas, the Buechler family enjoyed a free movie-day at the remodeled and rebranded Cinemark Greenwood Corner theatre, formerly Cinemark Movies 8, on the Southside.
The family watched Frozen II. The Buechlers include mom Jen and dad John and five children: Roncalli alumna/Ohio State University sophomore Tyler Hicks, Roncalli sophomore Will Buechler, St. Jude Catholic School students Ben and Maddie Buechler, and Lauryn, 9, who was born with Down Syndrome.
Their free movie day was complements of Cinemark to honor Jen for founding 21 DreamS that promotes awareness, acceptance, inclusion and inspiration among parents of children with Down Syndrome and the general public.
She has published eight volumes of 21 DreamS and is working on her ninth book. Each book raises the awareness of Down Syndrome and profiles 21 families who have a child with Down Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder arising from three, rather than two copies of the 21st chromosome.
Jen has been reaching out since Lauryn’s birth via c-section at Community Hospital North on Aug. 21, 2010. Lauryn was in the NICU for several weeks after her birth because of pre-birth indicators of Down Syndrome.
Jen had a strong feeling that Lauryn would be born with Down Syndrome and immediately reached out for support through Down Syndrome of Indiana (DSI).
She also revealed that John’s mother, Henrietta “Nanny” Rendel, was mortified at having a granddaughter with Down Syndrome, which Jen called “generational.” Once “Nanny” held her newest granddaughter those old stereotypes vanished.
Sadly, the Buechlers missed the 2019 Buddy Walk due to Nanny’s funeral but still raised more than $13,000 for the Buddy Walk.
Jen and Lauryn participated in their first Buddy Walk on Oct. 23, 2010 at White River State Park downtown.
“That first walk was so wonderful; it had a real community feel,” Jen recalled. “I felt supported and became an advocate. Each Buddy Walk has been like one big family reunion.”
Jen and the Buechler family knew they were not alone. She originally posted photos that became popular on the Caring Bridge website, an experience that resulted in letting others know of families with children with Down Syndrome.
“I reached out to families for their stories, thinking that not many would reply,” Jen said. “I received more than 50 replies and wound up doing two volumes.”
A former “inclusion room” teacher at Indian Creek school in Lawrence Township and St. Simon Catholic School, Jen has been able to help bridge the way people see Lauryn and others, young and old, with Down Syndrome.
Jen describes herself as a “cradle Catholic” whose faith has grown because of Lauryn.
“My faith is my life,” she said. “I can’t predict the future for Lauryn, but it is through faith that I put my trust in God.”
The Buechlers were recommended to Cinemark Greenwood Corner by Victory Sun, Inc. president and CEO Vanessa Stiles, a Greenwood native and Emory University alumnae. Victory Sun is the public relations/advertising firm that handled publicity for the remodeling and reopening of Cinemark Greenwood Corner on Dec. 12.
Cinemark wanted to gift a free movie experience for a deserving family to recognize their impact upon the community.
The Buechlers were notified in early November that they were selected for the free movie experience and they could invite up to 100 guests.
“I wanted to reach out to Down Syndrome of Indiana and make it a ‘thank you’ for the 21 DreamS team for taking part in Buddy Walks,” Jen said. “Our children also enjoy the special connection they have with other children with Down Syndrome.”
The family intentionally did not see Frozen II until Dec. 28 at Cinemark Greenwood Corner in one of the eight refurbished movie auditoriums with new sound, RealD 3D technology, luxury electric-powered and heated loungers and a new lobby with its remodeled refreshment area.
Squeezed between Christmas and New Year holidays, Jen was able to sum up the family’s free movie experience in one word – “exciting.”
For info visit online: 21dreamsproject.com; dsindiana.org; and fandango.com/Cinemark-greenwood-corner.