After sitting in front of my computer finely tweaking wedding photos for a few hours I decided to take a break and work on something near and dear to my heart. For those of you that don’t know my family or myself well, we’re a pretty large close-knit but open-hearted bunch. We love to throw parties, feed everyone from practically the whole county, play games and laugh together until the sun comes up.
Now out of everyone in our family, my Uncle David (or as all his nieces and nephews call him Uncle Dee or Dave), is probably the most memorable of the bunch. Not only is he naturally the most hysterical person I know, he has a ‘mild’ obsession with WWE, loves any sports team related to Pittsburgh (not to mention won’t admit that they lost any game, ever), has given up on the traditional ‘kiss’ and replaced it with nose kisses (also known as Eskimo kisses) and just happens to have Down’s Syndrome. Now to all of us who have grown up around it, we don’t even notice it. We’ve always been surrounded by him and his friends and it’s 100% normal to us. Some people don’t know how to act around those they deem ‘special’ but shooting events like this just goes to show how much love and kindness not only Dave, but all his close friends have for each other. I think each and everyone of us wish we could be as open, honest, and loving as they are 100% of the time. Dave and his best friend Tim, have literally known each other forever and are two of the funniest people around. You can always catch them telling jokes to each other and giggling in the corner and I’m sure you can see how deep their friendship is in all their photos below.
The funny thing about David is how much he loves having a birthday (now I think this has more to do with everyone spoiling him rotten and hey… let’s be honest, lots of people love my uncle so there is LOTS of spoiling). Dave just sucks it up. I think it brings smiles to all of our faces to be able to celebrate him knowing how much joy he’s brought to all of us. It’s honestly the least we can do to celebrate him. But to put this in your perspective, my niece, Veronica, made the whole family calendars last year. Everyone in the family had a picture of themselves on their birthday. DAVE on the other hand had a whole ‘birthday week’ dedicated to himself, pictures and all. Dave’s birthday is celebrated for a month by family, friends, and really just anyone who Dave feels should know it’s his birthday (even if it’s a month later). For the last year all he’s talked about is how much he wanted another surprise party (yes, we threw him one when he turned 40). So my grandmother, who is the party planner extraordinaire, (literally… no joke… I’m pretty sure she could plan a party with $5 in her pocket and a ball of yarn, she’s incredible) of course set something up to celebrate his big 5 0.
To set the tone for the party, this past week Tim and Dave had been at my parent’s house on their own version of a ‘vacation week.’ This involved copious amounts of WWE screenings and peanut butter milkshakes. Tim, who has known about the party for a few weeks, kept the secret of it’s upcoming arrival from David and couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he came in the door. Much to my Uncle Bill and mother’s planning, David thought he was coming to a fish fry at the fire hall (they made fish fry signs and everything). Low and behold when he walked in everyone yelled surprise and Tim rushed him yelling, ‘I got you!’ After giving Dave a huge hug all Dave’s close friends came in and they all had a huge group hug. Seeing it and capturing it made me tear up behind the camera. What a special moment and a wonderful group of friends.
We’re huggers in my family. As you can probably tell by the below photos. David proceeded to go around and hug everyone. From old reading teachers to hair dressers as well as tons of aunts, uncles, cousins, and practically any other relative you can think of. Dave’s whole party was themed Pittsburgh Steeler’s style; from decorations to cake. He was so excited when he not only saw the Steelers cake but the Coke can cake that had been specially made for him. My grandma wrote songs about Dave that everyone sang along to that went along to oldies like ‘Take Me Out To the Ballgame.’ Dave’s old drum teacher had also come along with his band and let David jam out on the drums to his favorite songs. It was so wonderful being able to capture Uncle Dee’s Surprise 50th Birthday and I hope you all enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them. -Alysha
**All images are owned and copyright of Alysha Yoder Photography. Do not use without permission.**