Crystal Williams

Disability Advocate, Mental Health Advocate, Blogger, Kabuki Syndrome, Animal lover & Loves Travel

Hello I’m Crystal Williams! Thank you for taking the time to check out my website. I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself & why I decided to become a blogger. First off  I’m a person with a disability. I have a rare Syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. It’s not as popular as autism or down syndrome. Most times when someone comes up to me & they don’t know me or do know but don’t know that I do have a disability it’s because you can not tell that I have one, part of my syndrome is that I have a hearing loss. I used to have a hole in my lip when I was born & that was called a cleft lip I no longer have that thanks to all of the surgeries that I had as a child. I also used to have very poor balance but thanks to therapeutic horseback riding I can now walk normally. I still do horseback riding today & I’m happy to say that I no longer need therapeutic lessons. Being a person with a disability doesn’t stop me from doing the stuff that I love, it just means that I have to work just that much harder than anyone else.

Now why did I want to become a blogger. I’ve always loved to write. Writing has always been a huge passion of mine. It has always been my way of expressing my feelings & it’s also been an escape for me. Now I want to be able to share my story with others & hopefully educate others. Being a disability advocate not only for myself but also for others who are not able to share their own voice is very important to me because I want to be able to educate others to understand & not be afraid to ask questions & want to get to know us better. I’m also a big advocate for mental health. I struggle with Depression & I want to be able to help others to come forward to share their story as well & know that they are not alone on their journey. We are all in this fight together.

Other things that you may not know about me. I’m a huge animal lover especially horses, dogs & cats. I love doing horseback riding. I love to travel. I married my best friend & the love of my life. We adopted a cat named Buttons. I love doing photography in my spare time.

Hello everyone!

Happy Friday. Hope that everyone is doing well & enjoying the week. Today on my blog I’m going to do a story/ interview that I did with a friend and fellow Special Olympics Athlete Daniel Smrokowski. If you rememberer awhile back I did a blog post about being apart of his podcast show with my husband Matthew. I thought it would be nice to return the favour and feature his story on my blog. I really recommend checking out his podcast show if you already haven’t done that yet it’s called Special Chronicles. You can listen to it anywhere on podcast apps and even online. I got to chat with Daniel about a week ago on a video call. I’m sure you’re all wondering how Daniel and I met. I met Daniel last march when Matthew and I went to Abu Dhabi to attend as guests for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Daniel is an athlete for Special Olympics Illinois. He joined Special Olympics in 2005. The sports that he does currently are Swimming and Basketball. Daniel would love to do unified golf for next season. Daniel recently had a swim meet and won two gold medals for his swimming reign qualifier next up for him will be state games in June of this year. In 2009 Daniel became an athlete leader for his local program by taking an athlete leadership training course. While doing the training course Daniel met his long time girlfriend Georgia. They Have been together for five years. As an athlete leader he has done local speeches to local schools and local organizations throughout his Community. Daniel started a college radio show to interview people and also started to share his story. Five months before he started podcasting he started listening to other different podcasts. He decided to try things for podcasting by recording stuff & doing different tests for podcast. Daniel’s podcast show Special Chronicles has been running for eleven years and it’s a non profit organization. Now his show has become a platform Network not only for podcasting but also a digital network for audio, video show and blogs. If you would like to know more about podcasting Daniel has created a video with all the information that you need in a video that will be posted on Special Olympics International’s website at the end of this month. To check that out you can go to specialolympics.org

Daniel Has got to interview lots of different people on his podcast. So I wanted to ask him more about that. One of his favourite interviews that he has done was with Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics. He has also told me that he would love to interview Robin Roberts from Good Morning America and she happens to be a big supporter for Special Olympics. Another person he would love to interview now is a Special Olympics Athlete, friend and a Special Olympics International Bored Member Loretta Claiborne. His dream interview person if they were still alive would be Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the founder of the Special Olympics

Daniel is a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. For the next four years he will travel around the world sharing the positive impact Special Olympics has had on his life and other people with disabilities. Last year as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger he attend the summer world games in Abu Dhabi and spoke at different events throughout the week.

For those of you that don’t know much about Special Olympics and would like to know more information about it. This is what Daniel would like you to know. When you come to any of our events they are fun. We compete at a high level and we also train like other people who don’t have disabilities It’s fun and everyone is included inside and outside of our Community. This movement has connected all of us together and has helped us meet new people.

Well I hope that you enjoyed reading my blog today. I just want to thank you for taking the time out of your day. Thank you to Daniel for letting me interview you and chat. If you would like to know more information about Daniel’s podcast show you can go check out his website at https://specialchronicles.com/?fbclid=IwAR2Loa2DYI8VR3P_CIXgfU4Vcz9swHhTkv6GpatFC7zGqoCVZj0P6kYhSFo

Well that’s all for today blog, I hope everyone has a great day.

~Crystal~

Hello everyone! Happy Saturday!

I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend. Today on my blog I’m doing a very special blog post on our cat Buttons. Now most of you see lots of photos of her on my instagram and Facebook page. Today happens to be her adoption anniversary. I wasn’t able to do anything last year on my blog because Matthew and I were away this times last year. Anyways so it’s been two amazing years since we brought our special little girl home with us. When we brought her home two years ago she was only ten months old and she was so scared. When we went to go pick her up from The Cat Therapy & Rescue Society they had told us that she had lost her mother when she was either two or three days old, so they had to bottle feed her and her siblings. They had also told us the bottle fed babies are usually the best ones to adopt because they are used to being held and being around people. When we brought Buttons she was so shy and scared that she didn’t want anything to do with us for the first couple of days and then she finally came out of her shell.

Now fast forward to now she loves to play fetch, loves to cuddle and she is also very loving as well. Buttons loves her treats and is also very food motived. Buttons has completely changed our life for the better. I know for me it was very important that I have an animal around because I suffer with depression and she has helped me while I really struggle through the winter months or even if I’m just having a bad day just getting to cuddle with her makes it that much better. She has also made it better when ever Matthew goes away on a trip without me because that’s when I would get very lonely and my depression would make it worse for me. Now whenever Matthew is away on trips I have my little girl to keep me company.

Matthew can’t imagine our life without her. Adopting Buttons was one of the best decisions that we have ever made besides getting married. Getting to give an animal a home that needs a home is so rewarding. Not only did we rescue Buttons she rescued us. I would tell anyone who wants to get their own pet to rescue instead of buying from a breeder. Not only are you saving an animal life by adopting but you’re also helping the shelters that are in need that might be full. If you can’t adopt but you really want to help your local shelter I would say to donate to them or go and volunteer.

Well that’s all for today’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it today. I also want to thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I hope that everyone has a good day and enjoys the rest of the weekend!

~Crystal~

Hello, everyone Happy Wednesday and Happy March! Today on my blog I want to talk about a campaign that is really important to me and many others who have disabilities. Today is the Annual Spread The Word Inclusion Day campaign. Now this campaign started back in 2009 as Spread The Word To End The Word. Last year they changed it to be Spread The Word Inclusion instead which I think is wonderful. This campaign is a huge part of Special Olympics world wide. I truly think that everyone should be included no matter what, weather it’s in a school, work place, sports or etc. Nobody should ever have to feel excluded. Everyone has the right to belong and feel included weather you have a disability or not. I truly feel that this campaign can make a difference for everyone. All I want to do is educate people to learn more about this campaign but also make a difference for others who are like me with disabilities. There’s a lot of other people with disabilities who can’t use their own voice, so I want to encourage everyone to go check out the website to sign the pledge and also educate yourself. Please also share it with your family and friends. We want to make sure that we continue spreading the word out because let’s face it everyone deserves to belong and feel included no matter what. I will put the website link below so that you can go check it out. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post for today. I hope that everyone is having a great week and enjoy the rest of your day!

~Crystal~

https://www.spreadtheword.global

Hello everyone!

Happy Saturday. I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend. Today on my blog I’m finally going to go into details about my trip that I was on a month ago! Crazy to think it’s already February. So anyways getting back to my post for today. Last month I went away on a cruise with my family we did the Panama cruise that also went to Costa Rica & the Caribbean. We flew out from Vancouver BC to Fort Lauderdale Florida and got on our cruise. We took Princess Cruises and we were on the Caribbean Princess ship. The cruise was 10 days round trip from Fort Lauderdale Florida. It sure was really nice to get away right at the beginning of the month after Christmas and New Years. The weather on the cruise was great the whole time sunny and warm.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

So our first stop on our cruise was Montego Bay Jamaica. Our excursion in Jamaica was Dunn’s River Fall and Dolphin Cove. So first off we got to go swimming and climbing through these beautiful Falls which was awesome and so much fun. I thought for sure the water was going to be very cold but it was actually warm and refreshing. Then after going through the falls we took a short bus ride to Dolphin Cove where they had dolphins, Sharks and stingrays. I was really excited because I’ve always wanted to go swimming with dolphins. So we got to Dolphin Cove where they provided lunch for us first. Then after lunch our tour guide told Matthew that if he wanted to get in the water with the Sand shark he could and so I encouraged him to do it because sharks are my husband’s favourite animal. So I got to was him swim and hold the shark before we went over to the other pool with the dolphins. We each got to have two rides on the dolphins which was absolutely incredible. Then we also got to play and interact with them as well. It was definitely a dream come true of mine.

Cartagena, Colombia

Our next stop on the cruise was Cartagena, Colombia. We got off the boat and did the hop on hop off bus tour excursion which was great. The city was beautiful all the buildings were very colourful and had a Spanish vibe was was neat. One of my favourite stops on the tour was getting to do the walking tour through town square. It was absolutely beautiful. As we were doing the walking tour I got very excited seeing a horse carriage go by with this beautiful horse I really wish that it would stop but unfortunately it had people in the carriage going for a ride. Once the walking tour was done we went back on the hop on hop off bus. Got to see a little more of the city then later both Matthew and I wanted to get back on the boat. So My father In Law and Matthew’s Uncle wanted to stay out a bit longer which was fine with both of us. Once Matthew and I got off the bus then we started walking back towards the boat and they had birds and some different monkeys climbing around. We got to see three monkeys up close in the trees which I thought was cool after all I really like monkeys I think they are cool animals that you don’t get to see very often.

Panama Canal, Cristobal Panama

For Panama both Matthew and I stayed on the boat while my Father In Law and Matthew’s uncle got off the boat and did a day tour through Panama. While we stayed on the ship and watched the ship go through the Panama Canal and the locks. They had someone on the speaker telling about the locks and the canal which we both found very interesting.

Limón, Costa Rica

We all got off the boat together and went and walked around Limon , Costa Rica. Unfortunately there wasn’t to much around to see but we went close to the water and walked around town for a little bit and then got back on the ship.

Grand Cayman, Cayman Island

For our last stop before heading home was Grand Cayman we were all supposed to go swimming with the stingrays but unfortunately they had to cancel the excursion because the water was to rough and I guess it wasn’t going to be safe which was sad because that’s the excursion that Matthew really wanted to do. So instead we just went through the town and found a beach to go swimming in and then walked around the town before heading back on the ship.

Then we got back into Fort Lauderdale, Florida and flew home from there. Over all it was a great vacation. We all got lots of rest and relaxation. I read lots of books while we were on the ship. We all went swimming in the pools a few times. I went to the spa a couple of times. We went for dinner to the specialty restaurant and also in the dinning room. The food and drinks were all great. Anyways I hope you enjoyed reading this post for today. I will post a bunch of the photos from the trip below. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend.

~Crystal~

Beautiful Sunset

Dunn River Falls
Dunn River Falls
Matthew with the sand shark at Dolphin Cove
Me laughing because I’m having a blast with the Dolphins at Dolphin Cove
Matthew with the Dolphin at Dolphin Cove
Town Square walking tour in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
We saw him as we got off the boat in Limon, Costa Rica
Cute stray cat in the market at Limon, Costa Rica
Matthew, Me & My father in law in Grand Cayman
The beach we found in the Grand Cayman very close to where our ship was.
Found this neat Waffle House had to stop and get a picture of the name.
Matthew and I for one of the formal nights.

Hello everyone,

Happy Wednesday. Today is a very important day because here in Canada we have a great cause for mental health called Bell Let’s Talk. It’s to help anyone who is struggling with any kind of mental illness. For me I have been struggling with depression for ten years and it has really made a difference in my life because I’m able to share my feelings with my loved ones and I have an incredible support system. Over the last couple of years I have found that the more I talk about my struggles with others who are dealing with the same thing it’s seems to be more helpful and it also feels like weight lifted off of my shoulders. Before I would feel like I wasn’t able to share my feelings about my depression because I was sacred. embarrassed, I felt alone and I also felt like I was not worthy. Now I feel like I’m on a mission to help others by putting myself out there to be an advocate for mental health. If you know someone that you love who is going through mental illness please just remember to be patient with them and just be there for them weather it’s just giving them a hug or just sitting with them and listening. Sometimes it could also just be telling them that things are going to be okay and that you’re there for them as well. I still have my good and bad days but from what I have learned is just take one day at a time and do the things that make me happy. Sometimes when I’m having a rough day and my depression gets the better of me, I have to really push myself to get through the day and remind myself that I’m worthy, I’m strong and that I deserve to be happy. I hope that by me sharing about my mental illness will help someone else who needs it. Just remember that you are never alone. We need to keep talking about mental health everyday. Let’s keep the conversation going! #bellletstalk

-Crystal-

Hello everyone!

Good Afternoon Happy 2020! Sorry I’m a little late writing my New Years post. Better late than never right? Well my husband and I were away on vacation at the beginning of the month and we got back at the beginning of this week. Anyways I will post about our vacation in my next blog next week. This week I just wanted to jump on and do my New Years post. Wow it’s already the middle of January where has the time gone so far for this month. This year I’m planning on doing some bigger changes to my blog that I’m really excited about. For 2020 I’m planning on doing more blog posts each month not only about my life, travel, mental health and being a disability advocate. This year I’m going to be doing interviews posts from people that are making a difference in the world not only for individuals with disabilities but others as well who have a story to tell and that I think is important to share for others. I hope that you are excited to see where I’m going this with this for 2020. I feel that because I have a voice I want to be able to help others share theirs as well. So please stay tuned for theses changes that are coming for this year. I hope that you have had a great new years and are starting the year off to a good start. Well that’s all for now. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post about my vacation but until then. I hope that everyone has a wonderful rest of their day and a great weekend!!

~Crystal~

Hello everyone! Happy Sunday, Christmas is almost here. Where did this year go. Today on my blog I thought I would post about all the great things that has happened this year for me and my husband.

Not too much happened at the beginning of this year. We celebrated my husband’s birthday. We took a quick trip to the island to help honour Kim Samuel one of our friends who received an award at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo BC. We got to go to the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Abu Dhabi as guests. We celebrated Buttons first adoption anniversary with us. I got to do a demo ride for my riding stable Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association at Thunderbird show park. We took a cruise to Alaska for a week. Then celebrated my birthday. I got to go to a concert with one of my girlfriends to see one of my favourite female Country artists Carrie Underwood at Rogers arena. We took an other quick trip to the island to visit Matthew’s family in Sydney BC. I went to Merritt BC to visit my grandparents for a weekend away. We went up to Osoyoos BC to visit more of Matthew’s family. I completed my summer goal to do the Grouse Grind. We got invited to go Georgia Atlanta to visit people we know who work for Special Olympics Georgia. Matthew got to speak to their staff members about his Experiences with Special Olympics. We both got to take part in a podcast with a fellow Special Olympics athlete. If you’re interested his podcast is called Special Chronicles. We celebrated our 1st Wedding Anniversary. We went back up to Osoyoos BC for a family wedding. We went to Toronto for a symposium hosted by our friend Kim Samuel for social connectedness and a right to belong. We also went to Washington DC.

Overall this year was full of lots of travel. Lots of new experiences. One of my favourite things about this year was getting to spend lots of time with my family and my amazing friends. I hope that everyone also had a great year as well. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Sending everyone lots of joy and happiness going into 2020. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Here’s a few of my favourite pictures from this year.

~Crystal~

Me with one of the horses at my riding stable
Loretta, Matthew and I
Matthew and I riding a camel
At Thunderbird Show Park doing a Demo ride on Taco for
Valley Theerapuetic Equestrian Association
Matthew and I on our Alaska Cruise
A beautiful View on our Alaska Cruise. Still one of my favourtie picture from our trip
My friend Kristen and I at Rogers Arena waiting for Carrie Underwood to preform

Carrie Underwood

Just a really cute picture of Buttons
More horses at my riding stable. My favourtie place to be.

In Osoyoos BC for a family weekend

At the top of Grouse Mountain after finishing the Grouse Grind
Brendan and Kelsey’s Wedding Day!
Matthew and I all dressed up for a family wedding
Buttons and I having a cuddle

Hello Everyone,

Happy Wednesday. It’s been a couple of weeks since I have done my last blog post. Hopefully everyone is excited and looking forward to the holidays coming. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is two weeks away. I absolutely love this time of year. Spending time with family and friends over the holidays. I love being able to decorate our place for Christmas, watching holiday classics Christmas movies and baking Christmas goodies. For me the holidays are very special because not only do you get to spend time with all your loved ones but you also get to reflect back on the year that you had and all the amazing memories that you have made during the year. Well that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for taking a couple minutes out of your day to read my blog. Here’s some pictures of our Christmas decorations in our place and a picture of Buttons. Have a great day!

Hello everyone,

Happy Sunday I hope that everyone had a good week and is enjoying their weekend. It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted my last blog. I was going to post something last week but I had a lot going on and I was also sick. I’m feeling much better now. I’m excited to share what I was up to from two weeks ago. My Husband Matthew and I went to Washington DC. This was a very quick trip. We left on Monday November 11 and came back on Wednesday November 13. So we left early on the Monday morning and got to DC that evening for a surprise dinner for our friend Kim Samuel. It was for her birthday we were both excited to be there for her. We saw her a couple weeks before in Toronto for her symposium which was absoulty awesome. It was so hard to keep it a secret from her but boy was Kim surprised. Anyways the dinner was great. We got to see lots of people we both new and got to meet lots of new people as well. Then the next day it was the annual Special Olympics International board meeting that they do every year. Now my husband Matthew was apart of the International borad for many years and he recently step off of because his term is up. We both went to the board meeting to listen in for about two hours and then after that we got to go tour around the city because after all it was my first time being in DC. We went to the White House, The Washington Monument, The World War ll. Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and also The United States Holocaust Memorial museum. It was definitely a jam packed day but the good thing was that everything was pretty walkable and close by to get too as well. Then later we got back to our hotel for awhile to relax. Then later that night we met up with a few people that we knew from the board and went out for dinner with them. Then the next day we flew back home. It was a very quick trip but I definitely had a great time. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this post today. I will post a few pictures from the trip. Anyways have a good rest of your day!

Hello everyone happy Sunday. Hopefully you are having a great weekend. I’ve been enjoying my weekend as well. This past week my husband and I were in Toronto for a couple of days. We were both invited to go to Toronto to attend The 2019 Global Symposium: Reimagining Community In The 21st Century hosted by the Samuel foundation. Kim Samuel is the Chair & President of The Samuel Family Foundation and also the Founder for The Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness. Now I’m sure you might be wondering how I know her, Well my Husband Matthew worked with her on The Special Olympics International Board for many years and so I’ve got the chance to meet her through my husband that way and were both lucky to call her a friend. Back in February of this year Kim invited us both to join her in Nanaimo as she was getting an honorary Doctorate from The Vancouver Island University. While we were there she had talked lots about this Symposium. So going back to last week. There was 170 people invited to this event and there was 150 people that was there. There was people from all over the world North America, The Untied Kingdom, Africa, Germany, Australia and many more countries. There was so many different great organizations and Businesses that were all there working towards inclusions and belonging. I loved that everyday there was different panel discussions and each panel had a Q&A. That way you got to learn even more about the people and what their organizations were doing. I was so happy to see that Special Olympics was there getting to educate more people who had never heard of it or even people who just wanted to get to know more information about all the great work that it has done for individuals with disabilities. There was a lot of talk about Inclusion and Belonging. which I loved because it doesn’t matter if you’re someone like me who has a disability or not. everyone wants to be included and a right to belong, wether it’s in sports, in your everyday life etc. One question that was brought up a lot to the different panelists was What Gives You Hope To Belonging? For the last couple of days I have defiantly gave it a lot of thought and here’s my answer to this question. For me what gives me hope is that being able to educate more people about people with disabilities and also educate more people as well people who are struggling with mental health by being able to continue telling my story but also helping others who may not be able to share their stories in the same way I can. One of the panelist from one of the discussions said something that really stayed with me and I really loved it. They said that we all have something to give wether it’s big or small. I found that to be very true and also very helpful as well. For me being able to share with others is what I have to give. Overall the symposium was an amazing experience. From all the different panel discussions to the breakout sessions. The thing that I’m going to take away and has helped me. I have learned that I need to stop putting myself on the back burner and I need to start thinking about me a little bit more to be able to do what I love but also what I want to do in my life. Well that’s all for this blog post today. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I will be making some changes in the new year on my blog. I hope you stay tuned for them. I’m very excited about what is coming next for me but for now you will have to wait and see what I have in store. Hope you all have a great day! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my blog. Here’s some pictures that I took from last week! Enjoy

~Crystal~