When I Grow Up

I could sit here each day of this month and write a bunch of stats on Down syndrome, share pics of LB, tell you why you and everyone you know needs to not only accept her, but love her and include her. Or I could go on and on about the R-word, inclusion in schools, therapies and things that she is at high risk for... But that's all been done. Time and time again.

What I don't want to do is get into the same rut I have in years past where I am pushing paper so-to-speak and then I end up bored with the month before it's even had a chance. I don't want to be bland or boring because, to me, that isn't gonna make you remember anything I've said much less make you want to return for more.

I wanna give you sumthin to talk about... sumthin to share at the water cooler or lunch table.

So why not share with you some of the great things people with Down syndrome ARE doing.

20 years ago, the conversations still began with I'm sorry. Doctors often advised parents to institutionalize their children all because they had one more chromosome. Mongoloid was a common term used to describe Ds. And schools were still having issues with even accepting these children into them at all.

While we have come a VERY LONG WAY, we still have so so far to go. It's a journey and certainly not an easy one. So many parents before me have had much larger voices, greater challenges and struggles I may never have to experience because they fought and fought for a better and brighter future for our children. I thank them from the tips of my toes and the depths of my soul for doing such. The courage and strength they had to have astounds me and I am in awe when I meet an elder of our community. If I have met you, thank you. If I haven't thank you even more.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from attending the NDSC (National Down Syndrome Congress) conference last July, were all of the vendors. Sure, there were many that were trying to sell you the latest book or therapy device; some with the best shoe inserts or bikes to teach your kid with Ds how to ride a bike... but the ones that stuck out to me were the vendors that had Ds themselves. These were business owners. These were entrepreneurs who had a  passion and went for it! There were clothing designers, candy makers, authors, jewelry makers, quilters, etc.

Then there were the attendees that you couldn't miss. The 'celebrity status' if you will. The restaurant owners, the actors, public speakers, the "well known" peeps with Ds. I was a bit star struck and had to write all about that time. Check out that post here. (Pics included of course!)

You may have heard of a few of them... Tim from Tim's place. He's a pretty cool dude. He hugged everyone. As said so by the sign in his restaurant. He had a dream to open a restaurant and give out hugs... and his parents help make that happen.

Ashley DeRamus is a clothing designer and travels around the country singing the National Anthem and does various speaking engagements. I had the great privilege of meeting Ashley and her mother at the a conference last Feb. Both were so wonderful and genuine. Ashley's mother Connie gave myself and a friend some advice when we asked what was her secret...what did she do to raise such a remarkable young woman? She said she just treated her like any one else. She loved her as she should and pushed her to do her best.

Madeline Stuart is an Australian model that has now walked the runway at Fashion Week in NYC! That's amazing! Not to mention the countless other models grazing the pages of Targets weekly circular. Then there is also Gigi Cunningham... she's a gorgeous 17 year old that is breaking into the modeling world and defying the nay-Sayers.

Lauren Green's Serendipity beautiful line of jewelry can be found on facebook. She is a business owner too and did so after she was told she couldn't.

Andrew Banar owns Group Hug Apparel. He designs his own t-shirts and sells them. He too had a dream.

Actors Jamie Brewer, Lauren Potter, David DeSanctis, Chris Burke, Blair Williamson ... all making movies and TV shows that have their names in lights.

This is just the tip of the iceberg... just the beginning. To show the world that an extra chromosome doesn't limit you. That you too can live a dream if you set your mind to it. And while the extra chromy doesn't limit you.... the environment around you sure can.

I feel it is so crucial to share every wonderful thing I know about Down syndrome with those around me and those that LB will be around and in contact with. I can't rid the world of the ugly, and I can't shield her from it all of her life. Oh how I wish I could. But I can give her the path to shine in all her glory as God has intended for her to do.

I don't know what the path for LB is ... I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I know she will do it so well and love life while she does.

Until next time..


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