Angels in Action

Q&A with Angel Mama Linda Rafert Yoakam

billy1

Q. Tell us about your favorite outings?

Billy loves to be entertained.  And he’s not picky.  He enjoys movies, sporting events like minor league baseball or indoor football, local community plays or Broadway-caliber plays, musicals, concerts.  Those are some of our favorite outings.  Because he enjoys outings so much, we’ve resorted to season tickets to events.  Swimming and water activities are not the draw they once were in his childhood.

Billy understands more than he’s given credit for…here he is at the Boston Public Library making sure I don’t miss the beautiful paintings on the walls being described by our guide.

Q. What do you find most challenging about your travels with Billy?

Bill loves to travel.  Car, plane, train, boat—loves them all!  I’ve found employees to be more than generous with offering assistance; from porters on the train, to TSA sending us thru the short line, to stewards giving him extra snacks.  I can think of a few challenging areas.

Transitioning surfaces or levels has been difficult since walking began, I’m guessing this comes from depth perception processing, but I now see it going up train steps, from boat to dock  or gangway to plane.   Another problem is toileting, especially on planes.  We all know that area is built for less than 1 person; definitely NOT two.  We try to avoid the need, not always successfully.  Showering in those small hotel bathrooms; for that reason, I’ll ask for one of the accessible rooms.  And finally, his diet.  He’s on a gluten-free diet to help with behaviors.  Any special diet for any individual traveling is not easy.

billy2No mater where or how we travel; Billy always wants to know where he’s going. This was on a San Francisco BART train.

Q. What do you find most rewarding? 

Bill is my joy.  I find the joy he brings into my life to be most rewarding.  I’m happiest for him when he is around others that are happy being around him and reflecting his joy and happiness.  It’s the circle of joy!

Q. How do you keep your cool in stressful situations that involve your attendance at Angel events?

What cool?   I’m a crazy-woman at Angel events!  Bill feels the love in those situations and is always on his best behavior.  And 26 years of practice doesn’t hurt!

Q. How do you keep your cool in stressful situations that involve your attendance at Angel events?

What cool?   I’m a crazy-woman at Angel events!  Bill feels the love in those situations and is always on his best behavior.  And 26 years of practice doesn’t hurt!

billy4The ASF Walk-a-thon day is one of his yearly highlights; total chaos; total acceptance.

Q. Colin Farrell seems quite fond of your son; referring to him by name at the FAST (Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics) Gala. How did Billy develop this acquaintance with the celebrity?

The friendship developed like any other friendship: They met at a social event, hit-it-off, and the rest is history.  Billy and Colin Farrell met at Bill’s first gala in 2009, when Bill was attending as my date.  Billy knows no boundaries, has no ego, has no patience.  He walked right up to Colin and gave him one of those famous hugs, as Bill did everyone that night.