Monday, May 2, 2011

A Birthday

____ years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter. I won't tell you how long ago it was. She would skin me alive!! And, how frightening just 1 1/2 days later to hear the nurse (my room was next to the nurses station) call for a doctor. 'Mrs. Barton's baby is having trouble breathing'.  Our little Susan was put on the critical list and for days we did not think she would make it. A fighter she was and has been ever since.

She fought to live when she was 2 days old and grew into an enchanting little girl. 

She fought to become a model, a dream since she was 'knee high to a duck'. Just days before she was to move to New York to model at John Casablancas' studio she was hit by a drunk driver. Her beautiful head crashed through the windshield, her ankle was badly broken.

I remember thinking that her dream was over. Weeks of surgery, pain and therapy went by. She forced herself to go to the gym so that she could gain strength in her broken ankle (by the way, it still bothers her). One day I heard music coming from her room. It was Liza Minelli's 'New York, New York'. A smile covered my face, my heart, my entire being. My daughter and her dream were back.

She modeled for several years in Atlanta, New York and Europe.

Then she married

She and her husband had a son, then another. The second child, Owen, was just 18 months old when he was diagnosed with autism.

Another crushing blow, another fight, this time a huge one. After finding out that agencies there were dealing with autism were not working on the same level, pulling together for the common cause, Susan and Kevin started their own organization 'Autism Coalition'. They worked for a long time out of their house, raising money, getting legislation passed, spreading education. It was a tough to do what they needed to do and deal with Owen's issues at the same time.

The Coalition grew so large that they rented an office and hired people to help. After Bob Wright (CEO of NBC) and his wife, Susanne, found out that their grandson had autism they approached the Murrays and the Coalition, along with a couple of the other autism organizations, formed Autism Speaks. Kevin remains on the board of Autism Speaks and is on several committees. He and Susan fight every day for their own son and for other children with autism.

Yep, that little babe fighting to live back in .... oh, I said I wouldn't say what year, didn't I.... has had a constant fight on her hands and she has grown into such an intelligent, caring and giving person. I couldn't be prouder of her.

So, Happy Birthday, Susan. I love you with all my heart.


  1. She's Beautiful Latane...Inside And Out!!
    Happy Birthday to her!!

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  3. Happy Birthday to Susan! What a beautiful fighter she is!

  4. Happy birthday to Susan!!!! Wow... she's so beautiful..... her wedding picture looks as pretty as Kate's... who we've all been admiring this week..

    I'm sorry your family's had to go down the Autism road....., but it sure sounds like your Susan and her husband are working to help with this mysterious dilemma. We have a nephew who is brilliant, but is autistic...such a struggle.

    Love all the beautiful pictures!!!!

  5. Your new blog is really nice...your family is lovely. I watched the movie, 'Grandin Temple' about a lady with autism who accomplished great things. She also has an hour long interview on youtube. We thought about her for days afterwards.

  6. Happy Birthday Susan! We are proud to hear of Susan’s founding role of the Autism Coalition, now operating as Autism Speaks, and her work in promoting autism awareness. Additionally, we are proud of her past affiliation with the John Casablancas Company. We admire Susan’s strength, courage and determination in overcoming life’s challenges. We plan to make a donation to the Autism Speaks organization on behalf of the John Casablancas Modeling & Career Centers. John Casablancas Corporate Office

  7. Happy Birthday, Susan! Everyday you are putting forth such great effort for autism. The world is blessed to have people like you. Have a wonderful day and a blessed year to come.



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