In the coming weeks, we will be revisiting the Waldons’ story, recounting the ups and downs that lead them to found our nonprofit organization. Many of you already know and love this family and have been part of their journey from the start, but for others their story may become a new source of encouragement and hope.
Catherine & Grover grew up together in the same church, and started dating in high school. After dating for eight years, and during Grover’s last year of law school, he proposed utilizing an airplane with a sign behind it: “Bosco, will you marry me?” (Grover’s nickname for Catherine, as she’s Basque). Now 40 years ago, they had a beautiful wedding at their church with 400 of their favorite people. Of course the wedding reception was held at the Basque Club on an extremely hot day in August–thankfully they had a swamp cooler to keep the guests cool!
After five years of marriage, their first son Josh was born, followed by Trevor not two years later!
This ordinary Bakersfield family enjoyed camping with their church family, participating in the boys’ sports programs, and hanging out with extended family. They spent as much time as possible at the family ranch riding quads, taking care of the cattle, and enjoying each others’ company.
Realizing that Trevor wasn’t meeting some milestones, Catherine and Grover brought him to be tested through the local school system. Having received a diagnosis, Trevor’s journey with various schools and programs for children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) began. Wanting the very best for their son, Catherine & Grover left no stone unturned: investigating programs, consulting doctors, attending occupational/physical therapies, completing test after test.
But in middle school, Trevor had had enough. “I don’t want to have any more tests,” he told his parents.
Trevor–a caring, fun-loving, and stubborn young man–just wanted to live an ordinary life. He loved the annual branding at the ranch, all things John Wayne, watching his brother Josh play football and going out for meals with his friends. He went to every prom and dance during high school, and was nominated for prom prince one year at Centennial High School! His family and friends began to realize that by simply loving and supporting him, Trevor could and would enjoy that ordinary life he desired.
The Waldons’ extended family continued to love and support Trevor, especially as Catherine & Grover were exploring options for his journey into adult life. Susan Davies (a beloved family member) gave them a book about Shepherds College, a post-secondary school for students with IDD. Interested in the possibilities, the Waldons hopped on a plane to visit the facilities. Though they LOVED the concept of vocational training, courses, and on-campus support, there was one problem–the school was all the way in Wisconsin!
The wheels began to turn as the family saw exemplary programs for those with IDD around the country, but few options locally. Sitting around the kitchen table one evening and dreaming of all the possibilities, the name “Independence Through GRACE” was conceived.
Though it would be another few years before the GRACE enrichment program opened its doors, Catherine, Grover, and their eldest son Josh took a leap of faith and formed the original board of directors for Independence Through GRACE.
Join the Waldon family in celebrating the past and supporting the future of ITG. The Waldons are offering to match up to $5,000 of your tax-deductible donations–dollar for dollar!
Just like the Waldons, each and every one of us has a unique story, and each of us has been impacted by countless numbers of people. Family, friends, teachers, church members, coworkers, community leaders, those we meet in passing… so many people are woven into our story, often without knowing the effect they’ve had on us.
ITG programs and services deeply impact the lives of our participants and their families. By giving to ITG, you become part of our story. You become part of Trevor’s story.