Like all colleges, Vanderbilt enjoys some longstanding traditions and many do take place during freshman year. Admittedly, when I first became familiar with the concept of this event called the “anchor dash” I didn’t understand what could possibly be so exciting about running across the football field. But as the day came closer, I donned my Vanderbilt Mom t-shirt and headed over to the field along with numerous other parents, curious onlookers and of course - the entire freshman class. Chloe and I parted ways and and when she looked at me and said “I’ll see ya after,” I began to understand how much this event meant to her. At the time however; I still didn’t understand why. So what the heck is this anchor dash you’re probably asking ….? Each year, before the first homecoming game the freshman class runs across the field and this has come to be know over the years as the “anchor dash.” As I stood in the stadium and looked around - it began to sink in. SHE DID IT. We were HERE. We really were! The stadium in and of itself was really quite different from anywhere else we’d been and I just had this feeling of bewilderment or amazement perhaps. In any event, as we heard the announcement introducing the freshman class, I began watching the crowd for Chloe. And it took awhile, seriously…but all of the sudden out she ran and I found myself just screaming for her and cheering her on. Mere words can’t describe all I felt as Chloe ran across that field. All I could think about is what a win this was. This was inclusion: right here, right now. This was a win for Williams Syndrome because she represented that she CAN, she IS and in that incredible moment it became so clear that she has really given so many people so much hope.
Honestly, it’s not my first rodeo at watching Chloe break barriers and change minds, but admittedly the fact that it happened on yet another football field is indeed slightly curious to me. I have to wonder if maybe football fields are my good luck charm or something.