As I sit to write this I’m overcome with all there is to tell. By far, hands down this has been the busiest quarter the DSF has ever known. Let me just share one sweet story of how our mission is coming to light in our community. A few weeks ago I had a phone call from a mom of a Junior High student with Down syndrome. They have lived in Roswell for 2 years and did not know we existed but was told about the DSF by her daughter Samantha’s teacher.
Samantha’s teacher had attended our Educational Workshop back in March. This workshop was attended by teachers, administrators and parents form all over southeastern New Mexico. We had 12 school districts present. Samantha’s teacher is also new to Roswell and was thrilled to attend an equipping event like this free. She was also more fueled to find ways to help Samantha be included at school. This led to approaching the cheerleading coach to see if Samantha might have an opportunity to do what she loves and participate on some level and cheer. The coach was very excited to help and wanted to give her a chance to participate fully. Samantha “tried out” by showing the coach a cheer she had prepared. Next, mom reached out to us at the DSF.
This was wonderful to have a family find us! Samantha was now in need of sponsorships to help pay for her uniforms and other cheerleader needs. All cheerleaders have to find sponsors to help with the costs. When her mom came to me, I was first thrilled to meet this new self-advocate, second, really excited that we had made such an impact on her teacher, and finally, overjoyed that they asked us to help make her dream of cheerleading come true. This is really what we are all about. Helping those with Down syndrome and their families reach their dreams.
Of course we have funds set aside to help in cases just like this and we even had board members who matched the foundation’s sponsorship to make sure Samantha met her sponsorship needs to be a Mesa Middle School cheerleader. This would be amazing, but the story gets better. Next, the cheer coach contacted me and I was able to answer some of her questions about how to help Samantha be successful. She didn’t want her just sitting on the sidelines, but she wants her to have the chance to truly participate. She, also, wanted to help her other cheerleaders know how to relate and accept Samantha.
For this we loaned her a copy of the “JUST LIKE YOU Down Syndrome” DVD. She will share this with the team and then have an open discussion about Down syndrome. I assured her there was no silly question and she was welcome to call me any time. This is just one amazing story of the last few months. There has been community inclusion at work in music classes, a huge turn out for swim lessons, the addition of more teen/young adult self-advocates added to our membership than ever, and lives being changed one step at a time. To look back and think that it wasn’t that long ago our community didn’t have an organization set up to support people with Down syndrome and now we have 112 self-advocates in our membership and we are adding to that weekly. And more specifically we are helping them achieve their dreams! Your support counts!! Samantha and her mother would agree. Thank you for making another dream come true!!