Nothing Down Ambassador Program
Ambassadors are chosen on an annual basis to represent and assist the organization through community outreach, fundraising, and social media promotion. Ambassadors are the faces of Nothing Down and work very hard to advocate for the Down syndrome community. Their stories are represented on our website, and their milestones are documented on our social media pages throughout the year. By providing these amazing kids and adults a platform to shine, it educates the world that we are far more alike than we are different. The program began in early 2018 and in the two years since it’s inception, we have received close to 2,000 applications from potential ambassadors all over the world. Selecting our representatives is an extremely difficult process for our team, as there are so many incredible applicants that would make great additions to the program. In the end, we choose the families that show the most dedication to assisting Nothing Down in the areas of outreach, fundraising and promotion, and who have a true passion for our mission and advocacy.
Ambassador Application Process
Every December, we advertise the application process for our annual Ambassador call. Applicants are asked to provide a picture and fill out a questionnaire detailing their family’s current level of advocacy, frequency in which they share Nothing Down projects or programs through social media outlets, any history they have fundraising for Nothing Down, and their intentions if chosen to represent the organizations. We have found that the best ambassadors are those who have been dedicated to assisting our organization before applying to be an ambassador. If you believe that your family would be a good fit for the above mentioned criteria, we would love to have you apply for our next ambassador call!
To be notified of our monthly news including ambassador calls, casting calls, new projects, events, and other big news, click the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1OmUkQglh-A1hXgqvLanZipo4ibUxV10meABOeMW5sG4/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1h5y1g1NMwwQNSeMBzO_d7T7MPmUu5lT0acBdeOmQa0RThIOAOc1vE4tk&edit_requested=true
~WE ARE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE OUR 2019 NOTHING DOWN AMBASSADORS!~
Alex is currently an eighth grader in Delaware, Ohio. At school, he participates in Student Council, Diversity Club, Eagle News (the student news broadcast), the 8th grade boy’s basketball team, and is looking forward to participating on the track and field team this spring. Alex looks forward to beginning high school in the fall!
Outside of school, Alex is a member of the Ensemble Company at a local dance studio, and he volunteers as an usher and acolyte at his church. Beyond all of that, Alex loves the WWE, The Price Is Right, Hot Wheels, and spending time with his family and friends.
Alex’s family is passionate about inclusion and kindness, and diligently works to illustrate that Alex is an equal and able member of their community. #InclusionMatters
Two-year-old Vaughn is Nothing Down’s only Canadian ambassador. He has a contagious smile, a sensitive heart and gives the greatest hugs. Vaughn is a strong-willed and curious little boy who loves trains, puzzles, books and mastering new signs. His energy and curiosity keeps his parents on their toes, as Vaughn is always on the move, running and climbing.
We feel so lucky that Vaughn was born in today’s age – a time with such a buzz and push for inclusion for people of all abilities. We know without a doubt that Vaughn will continue to break stereotypes and show the world that he is smart, capable, worthy, and that there truly is nothing “down” about Vaughn or his extra chromosome. He makes his family and friends proud every day and is loved beyond measure.
You can keep up with Vaughn on his Instagram page- @daily.vaughn.
Please meet Bella. Bella is 2 years old and lives in the UK. We had a prenatal unofficial diagnosis so we had plenty of time to prepare for our little bundle arriving. Bella was born on the 20th January 2017 weighing 5lb 7oz. She was born with a small hole in her heart which closed up on its own by her 1st birthday. Other than that, Bella has no other health issues.
Bella is a part of the “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” charity in the UK, trying to make negative perceptions of Down syndrome a thing of the past.
Bella took part in the Down right beautiful campaign last summer and we absolutely love to spread awareness wherever we can. Down syndrome is nothing to be feared and we cant wait to help spread that with Nothing Down.
Bella is a little star and makes people smile wherever she goes.
We are so proud of this little girl and will continue to raise awareness where we can.
Derek recently turned 4 and is so very excited to be one of the 2019 Nothing Down Ambassadors! We had a prenatal diagnosis when I was about 15 weeks pregnant and we decided that we weren’t going to tell anyone because we didn’t want anyone feeling bad for us! It was the best decision for us and right then we knew that there was Nothing Down about Down syndrome!
Derek is the absolute light of everyone’s lives! He can make you smile and laugh just by looking at you. He will turn your day around with his big beautiful smile. He absolutely LOVES riding the bus everyday and loves school! School has been so amazing this past year and Derek keeps showing us all that he can learn just like his typical peers!
We are so so proud of our boy and we can’t wait to keep showing the world that there is Nothing Down about Derek and all of his amazing friends!
Born in China, Lian was lovingly welcomed into his forever family’s arms on October 30, 2016. In the two years he has been home, he has made tremendous strides in health and development! Bright, funny, and with a keen love of music, Lian spends his days dancing, reading books, and practicing speech! He participates in a gymnastics class, loves to swim, and is very fluent in sign language.
Lian can be quite the mischievous ham, making everyone around him laugh. When out and about, he loves to give everyone he meets a high five and even the grouchiest stranger cannot resist his enthusiastic hello, coupled with a big smile.
While Lian has endured much loss in his short life, he doesn’t let that keep him down! His story is being shared far and wide, encouraging other adoptive families to say “YES!” to children who have Down syndrome. Lian’s adoption story is being published in a book that will come out in late 2019 and he also represents North Carolina in a new children’s book about the states!
Lian is adored by his parents and three older siblings, AND he will be getting a younger sister who also is rocking the extra chromosome from China in 2020!
Lian is a blessing to all who know him!
This is our Gabriella. She is 7 years old and in second grade where she is learning and growing so much. Although Gabby does not have much speech she is working hard everyday to communicate with others and has now begun learning sign language. She loves all her friends at school and is blessed to have some amazing teachers.
Gabby has a smile that can brighten up any room. Shes loving, beautiful, smart, sassy and gives the best hugs. She loves to swim and has started taking dance classes. She still has a very shy and stubborn side, but we love it. Her best friend is her little sister who is 5 years old. They are inseparable!
Down syndrome is not something anyone should fear but something you should embrace. We are learning from Gabby everyday and shes the best tour guide on this incredible journey. I know that she will continue to prove to everyone that she is capable of anything. We are honored that she was chosen to be a 2019 Ambassador for such an amazing organization.
James is our sweet 5 year old St. Patrick's Day miracle. We didn't find out that he had Down syndrome until birth, which came as quite a shock. But James very quickly showed us that the love of parents doesn't change just because of one extra chromosome. We live in a very supportive community that fully embraces inclusion. James and his friend, who also rocks the extra chromosome, are the reason behind the Just Two Moms organization. Their mommies started spreading the word and advocating for the acceptance and inclusion of ALL people in Northern California. (Facebook @justtwomoms and Instagram @justtwomomssr)
Although James has had a rough medical past, he can make you smile in an instant. You would never have guessed he's had 3 major surgeries and 23 other minor surgeries, hundreds of days in the hospital and several hard to diagnose medical issues. The twinkle in his eye has captured our hearts from day one and has never faded, even in the worst of times.
He is fully included in preschool and is making such great gains! He knows well over 350 signs and counting. He loves learning and is keeping up with his typically developing peers. His teachers say that he's an empathic friend who always brings comforts his friends in their times of need. We can't wait to see how James continues to change the world!
Nadia is 20 months old and ready to take on the world. She is just starting to stand on her own, and will be taking her first step any day now. Nadia is one of the ambassadors chosen from right outside of Philadelphia, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Nadia was born six weeks premature on August 5, 2017, after her mom spent five weeks on bed rest in the hospital leading up to her arrival. She was diagnosed with duodenal atresia and had corrective surgery at one day old. Other than that, Nadia has had no other health issues.
Nadia loves playing with her sisters and brothers. She also loves little doll babies, barbies, and she is a big fan of music.
Every time I see Nadia overcome a challenge, it reminds me that she is here to do great things. We look forward to everything Nadia has to teach us.
Meet Sydney (AKA Sydney Bean!) Sydney is 18 months old. Wow- that went fast! She will be the big TWO years old on August 24, 2019. She is the baby of three and absolutely loves her big sister and brother, Olivia (6) and Logan (3). They truly are the best of friends. From her love of matchbox cars and superheroes, to tackling her brother and reading with her sister, she has brought a new light to our lives. She is feisty, determined, and nothing will stop her until she succeeds!
Sydney was a surprise birth diagnosis and though we weren’t ready for our new journey, we have set out as a family to change the misconceptions of Down syndrome. Sydney was chosen to star in the Nothing Down documentary, “Dear Doctor”. We were able to share the story of our birth diagnosis and how we were lucky to have her diagnosis delivered to us in such a compassionate and loving manner.
Sydney’s smile, her laugh, and her wildness will bring a smile to your face and make your heart skip a beat. She has brought our family together, brought our friends closer and has even brought our community together. At almost two years old, she is helping to show that there is so much more to Down syndrome than just a diagnosis, and because of her we have been able to bring awareness, advocacy and inclusion.
Meet Aubrey Paige! She is 19 months old and full of love and laughter. Aubs has completely changed our lives for the better and has shown us that there is nothing down about Down syndrome. Aubrey is a true miracle. When we received her Down syndrome diagnosis, the doctors told us all of the negatives and none of the positives about our daughter. Needless to say, she proved every one of those doctors wrong! Aubrey is a smart, loving, strong and special girl. She is also a fighter. Our little girl is heart warrior, after undergoing two open heart surgeries and also having surgery for a hernia. Aubrey is also mama’s girly girl! She is a little diva and has a passion for bling and fashion. She loves to dress up and have her picture taken. Aubrey truly has a heart of gold and her diagnosis will never define her. We hope that, together with Aubrey, we can change the way the world sees Down syndrome!
Molly is a fun and bubbly 2 ½ year old little beauty from Carlow in Ireland. Born with the complicated heart condition, Tetrology of Fallot, Molly has successfully gone through two open heart surgeries and stents. She is known as a “Little Heart Warrior” and is doing fantastic! Molly uses sign language to communicate and after just recently learning to crawl, she is already nearly standing and is raring to go! She loves music and is completely country music mad with lots of celebrity fans from the music industry following her. After setting up pages for Molly on Instagram and Facebook, she gained quite a following. She quickly got picked up by several international brands and now showcases their clothes and bows as a brand representative. She loves to pose for the camera and has been photographed for newspapers, magazines and calendars. She’s even had a few television appearances. Molly is also the first model with Down syndrome to be signed to a large Irish Model Agency. Becoming an ambassador for Nothing Down was a big dream of ours and we are delighted to take on this role and spread even more awareness that there is Nothing Down about Down syndrome! Molly’s progress and advocacy can be followed on https://www.facebook.com/mollyandjoshua/ and on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mollyandjoshua/
Augustus "Auggie" Ferrari, is a 2 year old charmer with a big smile and even bigger dreams. Auggie is crushing goals everyday thanks to his fierce determination and the help of his big brother Giorgio. In his spare time he is a young foodie. We can get him to try new things nearly most of the time, as long as it involves food.
Auggie has been on the jumbrotron in Times Square two times, has participated in the Go Baby Go program, and will be starting the Special Olympics Young Athletes program this spring. He truly shows everyone that he comes in contact with that there is Nothing Down About Down syndrome.
Riley is 2 years old and has a smile that shines brighter than the sun. We received a birth diagnosis and, at the time, it was one of the scariest moments of our lives. But it turned out to be the best thing ever. Riley has the ability to light up a room and bring smiles to everyone. She is full of life and love. Riley adores her big sister Olivia who is 7 and her puppy, Waylon. She is one of the most determined, strong, stubborn babies I know. Riley doesn't let having Down syndrome stop her from doing what she wants. When she sets her mind to something, she doesn't give up. Riley is very social and loves giving high fives and fist bumps. She loves giving hugs and meeting new people. Riley has no fear, is very curious and is always on the move. She keeps us on our toes! We couldn't imagine a world where she doesn't have that extra chromosome. Riley loves music, dancing, she loves when we sing songs to her. She loves playing with her big sister, and watching daddy play video games. We are so excited to be a part of Nothing Down and have Riley be an ambassador for such an amazing organization. We love being apart of the Down syndrome community. It’s is a world I never knew existed and we are so happy to be a part of it. Riley is our rock star and is taking on us on an incredible adventure!
Lila is our sweet, smart, joyful, and resilient 1-year old girl. She walks, climbs, plays with her toys, and uses sign language to communicate. Her biggest fans are her big sister, big brother, and of course mommy and daddy!
She came into the world three weeks early and immediately went into the NICU. She needed oxygen and a feeding tube and was predicted by doctors to be there for 4-6 weeks. She was off oxygen after 24 hours and off her feeding tube after 2 days, she went home with her family at 5 days old. She is a sassy fighter and continuously shows that her possibilities are limitless!
Lila loves to dance to country music, especially Luke Bryan! She builds with blocks, plays ball, and feeds her baby dolls. She loves veggie straws and even made up her own sign to communicate that is what she wants! When she sees that her sister or brother is sad or upset, she immediately goes to them and gives the sweetest hug ever.
She completes our family and we wouldn’t change one thing about her!
Annabelle may only be two years old, but she has conquered more in her short life than many do in a lifetime! She was born with Trisomy 21 and Unilateral Left Clubfoot. She did not let the weekly trips out of state to get new leg casts hold her back and even began rolling over at just a month old! Every single milestone that doctors predicted she wouldn’t be able to accomplish for months (or even years!) she was able to accomplish in weeks. At 12 months old, Annabelle was named Zulily Cutie 2017 and was flown to Seattle for several photo shoots with her family. Appearing on their social media pages and on their website, Annabelle was well on her way to changing the way the world views Down syndrome. Just weeks after the cross-country trip, Annabelle was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She spent many months in the hospital, but thankfully achieved remission in September of 2017. With only a few months of treatment left now, Annabelle is rocking the world once again. She became an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network in 2018 and is so excited that she’s been given the opportunity to represent Nothing Down as a 2019 ambassador! Even with all of these complex issues, as well as being profoundly deaf in one ear, Annabelle has already shown the world that there’s absolutely Nothing Down about Down syndrome!
To learn more about Annabelle’s journey, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TravelWithAnnabelle.
Marcus was born 5 weeks early in September 2016. We learned around 15 weeks gestation that he had a high risk of having Trisomy 21. For our family it was scary as we had no idea what to expect.
He came into the world really quiet. It turned out that he had fluid around his lung- a condition called Chylothorax- which kept him hospitalized for the first two months of life. Since then Marcus has been perfectly healthy and strong! One of the first thing we noticed about Marcus was his affinity to love. The very first sign he learned was "love" and he uses it all the time to openly express his feelings for us.
Marcus started walking right after he turned 2 and has developed a very strong love of books. He loves to dance, he often gets the whole family dancing with him to his favorite songs! His favorite show is Sesame Street and he has recently developed a strong interest in dinosaurs.
One of the most profound things Marcus has shown us is the purity of love. His love is full and comes with no conditions or expectations. We love him to pieces and can't wait to see what else he will show us!
Fleur is a spunky, charismatic, and hilarious two year old. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania, but makes new friends everywhere she goes. Sometimes she will start a random dance party in the grocery line, and turns heads to blow kisses with strangers. Her loud energetic hello is enough to turn a bad day into something good. Not only is she beautiful, but she is extremely smart. Fleur has therapy almost daily and excels at most challenges presented. Walking has just recently been conquered, and now she can start running towards her dreams. Swimming and dancing are two of her favorite activities, and music makes her shine.
She is such a hard worker and inspires people around her to be better. As someone who is so full of love, it’s hard for others not to feel her energy. Her happiness is constant and is truly contagious. This wild spirited girl has nothing but open doors ahead of her. Whatever she chooses to do in life will be a magical journey. There is no doubt that she will light the way for others while rocking her amazing Fleur smile. As an ambassador, she will make Pennsylvania and Nothing Down proud!
Hannah Grace burst into this world with all odds seemingly against her. She was born with three holes in her heart, that gave her MAYBE 3 years to live at most, possible Leukemia, a post-birth Down Syndrome diagnosis, and a father who refused to accept that diagnosis- abandoning us when she was only 5 days. We were left virtually homeless with no car, no job, and very little hope (find our full story at https://paperdollsphotography.com/letter-to-my-daughter/ ).
Hannah is now almost 5 years old and has beat ALL odds. Every hole in her heart closed up without a knife ever touching her chest (yes, God is still in the miracle working business). ‘Look Mom, no scar!’ My miracle child has become one of the biggest self-advocates this world has ever seen- just by BEING HERSELF!
She is the heartbeat behind the mission of my advocacy platform Paperdolls Photography. Hannah has been featured in International news media all over the globe, along with many of her friends as you’ll see in the link. At almost 5 years old she has LITERALLY saved lives by showing those who have been given a prenatal Trisomy 21 diagnosis that Down Syndrome is an EXTRAordinary gift that comes wrapped in the most unexpected package. All you have to do is simply open and accept it.
We are beyond blessed to partner with Nothing Down to continue our mission of advocacy!
Ean Anderson is 10 years old and lives in New Mexico, where he attends the fourth grade. Ean has Mosaic Down Syndrome. He loves school and is such a smarty pants! He excels in math, reading, art, PE, and computers. He enjoys helping others learn in his classroom as well! He enjoys going to rock concerts, swimming, traveling, and playing music. Ean is one of the most loving, kind souls there is. He loves his family, friends, teachers, and his community very much. In fact, in our community, so many people know and love Ean and run up to give him hugs and talk with him. He knows how truly loved he is, too! Ean is truly our biggest blessing! We are so grateful to God for giving Ean to us and for allowing us to be a part of all of the wonderful and amazing things that he succeeds in every day. He has already accomplished so much! He models and proves how wonderful and awesome people with Down syndrome are. Our ultimate goal, as a family, is to show the world that Down Syndrome is not something to be feared, but rather something that is special, beautiful, and such a blessing! We love you, Ean!
Jada is 2 1/2 and a sheer Joy, as her middle name suggests. She was born in August of 2016, and had a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. She has been changing perceptions and lighting up the world ever since she was born. She is the focal point of a project in West Central Ohio called Spread Jada's Joy, bringing awareness and support to families in our area.
Jada has an older 5 year old sister, KJ, whom she adores and tries to keep up with in every way! She has recently started walking independently and is so proud! She continues to learn new signs and words everyday. Jada's mom and dad are both educators and athletic coaches, so she spends a lot of time inside Lima Senior High School, where she also attends an early head start program with her typical peers. Jada is loved by her friends and teachers alike! We are so grateful for a fully inclusive setting right within our high school. Jada loves watching live basketball and cheering on the Spartans!
We are so proud and excited for Jada to serve as a 2019 Nothing Down ambassador!
Bernadette is an adventurous five-year-old who loves to laugh and make others laugh with her. This year, she started mainstream preschool and has made a bunch of new friends. There is nothing she enjoys more than waking up in the morning and heading off to school.
Bernadette also loves to dance. She takes ballet and tap class, something she has done since she was 2 years old. This spring she will dance at a local mall, the Ronald McDonald House and this summer she will appear in her third dance recital.
Bernadette’s road has not always been the easiest. At two months old, she had an ostomy placed to help with her Hirschprung’s disease and at two years old, she was fitted for a tracheostomy to help with her chronic airway problems; both of which have been removed. She braved through many, many procedures and has since had both devices removed, working her way toward a life of fewer doctor visits and shorter hospital stays. Through all her her medical problems, Bernadette earned a well-deserved reputation for being both a rock star and a warrior.
Bernadette has a great big sister, Addison, who is ten, and an eight-year-old English bulldog named Rizzo, who started out as her protector but has turned into her partner-in-crime.
Gianna Hope Scauzillo was born June 29th, 2013. Once she arrived she put us on this amazing, life changing journey. Her pure, innocent soul brought a light into the lives of those around her- teaching us all to see the world thru a different, but equally beautiful lens. She loves unconditionally and has helped her family become better versions of ourselves. Gianna is full of spunk and has a huge personality! She is very charismatic, kind, determined, confident and driven. Everything we all strive to be, she has figured out at only 5 yrs old.
Gianna is a thrill seeker who loves amusement parks and roller coasters. She grew up being obsessed with Barney and even had the opportunity to meet him and his friends at Universal Studios. She also loves being in a dance class and performing on stage. She has the best big brother in the world who is her number one fan. At only 9 years old he has been an incredible advocate and started a Kindness Squad that spreads joy to others in her honor and for all individuals with Down syndrome.
There is no stopping this girl and she continues to crush stereotypes and misconceptions daily. It is an honor to have her as a part of our family.
Alex is a fun-loving and happy 5 year old who loves music, dancing, and people. His initial shy personality opens up in to a wild and crazy guy once he is familiar with his surroundings. Alex can often be found playing the guitar or drums, inventing dance moves, or trying his hand at photography with his new camera. He loves to learn from the people around him and takes everything in that he sees.
Alex is fully-included in his neighborhood school where he is in grade TK. Inclusive education from preschool to this point has been a huge positive for Alex who is very supported by staff and his peers. He has flourished in this environment and continues to grow and show us each day all he is learning at school.
Alex was fortunate to be part of a 2017 televised World Down Syndrome Day Public Service Announcement with the cast of Born this Way and the A&E Network and the 2015 Impossibles World Down Syndrome Day Calendar and article. He is featured on this year's Nothing Down calendar (August) and briefly in Nothing Down's Dear Doctor documentary released last year.
Through this opportunity, we are excited to show the world that there is Nothing Down about Down Syndrome! You can follow Alex on Facebook at his page Down With Alex (@downwithalex).
My name is Jen Strauss. I am 42 years old and live in Wisconsin. I originally grew up in South Florida and I spent 39 years there. My father passed away in 1995 and then my mother passed in 2016. Seven months after my mother’s passing, I decided to make a big move. I moved to Wisconsin to be closer to my sister and her family, as well as my dad’s side of the family.
When I lived in Florida, I participated with Broward County Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization and attended two Buddy Walks.
I am well known in the Down syndrome community through my awareness videos that I post on social media. I enjoy giving hope and inspiration to parents.
As Wisconsin’s Ambassador, I plan on doing more to teach people about Down Syndrome and would love to attend more events if I can. Hopefully, I can speak at schools and other events as a self advocate so that people can see who I am as a person and learn more about Down syndrome.
I’m a big-time WWE fan and my favorite artist is Disturbed. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I look forward to this coming year working with Nothing Down.
Damien Daniel Washington is the fifth and last born of Lucy and Dominic Washington. He is two years old and lives in Richmond, Texas. In his first two years of life, Damien has accomplished so much! He was a calendar model for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston and he is well known in the Pageant World here in Houston. He also is a member of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation Share A Smile Organization. The organization is made up of Pageant Kings and Queens who, through community service, make a difference in their communities. My dream for Damien is that all the world will see ABILITIES through his beautiful eyes!!
Hello, my name is Madison Best. I am 24 years old.
I am a Special Olympic athlete, 2019 Ambassador for Nothing Down, a self-advocate speaker with the ARC of Indiana and I have Down syndrome.
I have been in Special Olympics for about six years. I play several sports- basketball, ballroom dancing, track & field, tennis, softball, corn toss, cycling, and bowling. Special Olympics is important to me because I meet new people, compete, win medals and trophies and socialize with my friends. My favorite sport is ballroom dancing. This is my third year in ballroom dancing. My partner, Officer Josh Chapman, and I practice every Wednesday night for six months. We practice the Waltz, Tango, Salsa, Rumba and Cha Cha. I LOVE to dance, especially the Rumba! Last year we competed in the State Games where Josh and I won first place in every category! I now take lessons with a professional ballroom instructor each week. I performed twice in December at ballroom competitions and look forward to competing in more!
I love sports. I have a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do. Tai Kwon Do is important for both self-defense and exercise. Three years ago I learned to ride a bike at an I CAN RIDE bike camp and love to ride around my neighborhood for exercise. Mom and I have fun riding tandem bikes when we go on vacation.
I work at a nursing home and pay for my ballroom lessons and Tae Kwon Do with the money I earn from working. I have worked at the nursing home for three years and have worked in the kitchen, the dining room and delivering trays to the residents.
My boyfriend, Aron, and I have been dating for two years and we do a lot of things together. We read BOYFRIENDS + GIRLFRIENDS, A GUIDE TO DATING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES and have an agreement that we will respect ourselves and set an example for other people with special needs. Sometimes that is hard work but it is worth it. We have a lot of fun together!
I try to find things that help me practice my independence. The last two years I have attended an Independent Living Retreat with Sunshine Social Club.
Working on my independent living skills means working on these things:
Dating, job skills, making healthy food choices/cooking, shopping, independently, keeping a clean home, working on my job skills, expressing myself, setting an alarm and getting myself ready quickly, using my phone and ipad appropriately, keeping a healthy lifestyle, following my passions such as art, dance and more.
I want to inspire other people with Down syndrome to follow their passions. It is important to show the world that people with Down syndrome can live a full life: A life with meaningful relationships, hobbies, passions, independence, adventures and responsibility. My goals are to work in a coffee shop and live in an apartment or house, with a couple of my girlfriends. I look forward to my next adventure!
Hope is 2 years old and lives in Shelby Township, Michigan. She has a big brother, Johnathan who is 4 and is looking forward to becoming a big sister this fall.
Hope likes unicorns, purple and pink, sparkly shoes, and My Little Pony. She is our sassy, sweet, cuddle bug. But more than anything, Hope is a warrior.
In addition to Down Syndrome, Hope was born with Complex Congenital Heart Disease including and AVSD and a coarctation of the aorta. Complications from her heart defect caused her lungs and airway not to develop correctly leaving her trach and vent dependent. She also has Cerebral Palsy, dysphagia, mild vision and hearing issues, and a gtube.
Our sweet girl has spent half her life in the hospital, many days critically ill. Now, she spends half her days in therapy. But she is weaning off the vent, on track to be trach-free by summer, starting to talk and eat, and taking her first steps with the help of a gait trainer.
Hope has taught us so much about faith, patience, and resilience. And she continues to prove every day that we can't ever count her out.
Christine Alicia Palladino is a resident of Montgomery County, PA. This year she has been selected to serve as an International Ambassador for Nothing Down, an organization aiming to change the way that people view Down syndrome by eliminating the stigmas that are often associated with disabilities.
Christine will be celebrating her 40th birthday this May and is so excited to celebrate this milestone birthday. She is a Special Olympics Athlete who has participated in horseback riding, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball and track and field through the years and currently competes in swimming, bowling, and bocce. She is fortunate to have won dozens of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals through the years. She was a Blue-Ribbon Equestrian for 21 years. Christine attends the Summer Pennsylvania Special Olympics State games every June held at Penn State Campus for swimming and attends the Fall State Games at Villanova University for Bocce. She also attends the Special Olympics Sports Camp yearly where she can play many of the various Sports and try new ones out!
Christine was in a performing arts group for 15 years; dancing, singing and performing on stage in countless productions and concerts. Her favorite role was playing ChaCha DiGregorio in Grease! She has also sung the National Anthem twice at the Buddy Walk for the Reach for the Stars group.
Christine has been the owner of a LuLaRoe franchise with her sister for the past two years. Christine has participated in the Pennsylvania Miss Amazing Pageant for the last three years. She attends the Tim Tebow Foundation Prom for the past four years and loves dancing the night away! This year, Christine, her sister, and her mother collected over 400 gowns for those invited to the Prom.
Christine has attended the National Down Syndrome Society Gala in New York City for the last several years and enjoys traveling to New York City and feeling like a superstar.
Manu is 3 years old from Boulder, Colorado. He is spunky, joyous and the life of the party. He loves making people laugh and just being his goofy self. He’s one memorable little guy, especially with that head full of curls!
Manu attends full time preschool and makes friends everywhere he goes. He loves sports and music, and on any given day, you will find him dancing to Bruno Mars or throwing around a basketball or football.
He has been one of the biggest blessings to our family and continues to show us how amazing Down syndrome is.
Meet our sweet Blakely Ruth! Blakely is representing the state of Oklahoma! She is 2 1/2 yrs old and the sweetest joy to be around! She has a wildly fun personality and loves to give tight neck squeezing hugs. She communicates by using sign language or will just simply yell to get your attention. She is so smart and ornery but, be careful- she uses it to her advantage and can be quite the sneaky little thing if you don’t keep an eye on her!
Along with her extra chromosome she also has CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) and chronic lung disease. She is referred to as “the fighter” in our family because she fought extra hard to be in this life. But now that she is so much healthier, that fighter personality has not ceased! Blakely had an unusually rough start at life for a baby with Down syndrome. We received her diagnosis prenatally along with her CHD. We didn’t discover her sick lungs until she was born, but after 9 month of fighting, several surgeries, and getting a trach, she was healthy enough to go home! We have been home officially almost two years now and she has grown and thrived like a true miracle!
Blakely is growing her sign language vocabulary daily with her speech therapist and can say a few words out loud around her trach. She can scoot just about anywhere and she works very hard with her physical therapist weekly on growing stronger so that she can begin to walk. She loves movies- any and all movies- but her favorites are Trolls and Hotel Transylvania! She loves being outside playing with her doggies, and swinging in her swing. When she isn’t cuddling up with her mommy or daddy, she’s getting cuddles from gigi and papa or grandma and grandpa! Blakely loves her family and gets the biggest smile on her face when she sees someone she knows. She is quite the people person!
Blakely has never let her extra accessories and hard obstacles stop her from enjoying life. She wakes up everyday (well almost everyday, anyway) with a smile and gives a great big hug. She is our blessing, our rare gem, our lucky charm. She is a sassy little thing and we love being her parents! This journey has had many surprise turns but Blakely is our driver and we are just along for the ride!
Hey there! My name is Lily D. Moore.
I’m guessing you want to learn more about me.
In some ways, I guess you could call me your all-around “average” teenager. I’m a freshman in high school. I’m fifteen years old. I enjoy cooking, swimming, singing, cheerleading, horseback riding, traveling around d the world, and playing with hair & makeup. I love my pets: Charlie (dog), Lester (cat), and Hazel (cat).
I’m also a professional actress and model. I’ve starred in films, television episodes, and national commercials. I have posed for photographers on both coasts of the United States.
Lastly, I started an initiative for the homeless population called “H.E.L.P. – Helping Everyone with Love and Passion.” H.E.L.P. makes bags of food and toiletries available to the homeless. So far, we’ve given out over 400!
Elijah from Australia is 16 months old and so full of life and cheekiness!
I was a single mum and only 17 years old when I became pregnant. When I was 23 weeks along, I was told Elijah would be born with Down syndrome and duodenal atresia (a blockage in his bowel). He was in NICU for 22 days after having surgery at 3 days old.
Since then, he’s been one of the happiest little boys I’ve ever seen.
Elijah might be shy around new people but, my goodness, can he work it in front of a camera! He is so sassy and forever smiling and laughing.
Elijah is now sitting, crawling and is standing confidently, all things he’s taught himself.
He loves his cousins, Blayze and Ellah, and follows them everywhere, playing with them every chance he gets. Elijah babbles like crazy and his favorite words are Dad, Mum, bub and nan.
Elijah is so sweet and affectionate. He gives the best hugs and kisses, and is always giving cuddles, especially to me and his Gwarmy. His sweet personality shines through everyday. But, quite frankly, I believe we might be in trouble when he’s older, as he’s already super cheeky and sly!
Elijah doesn’t let Down syndrome define him and is very much like any other child. We see his extra chromosome as just more for us to love. He is so very loved in our family and we wouldn’t have Elijah any other way.
~CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NOTHING DOWN LIFETIME AMBASSADORS!~
The following individuals were recently named Lifetime Ambassadors, due to their exceptional dedication to Nothing Down during their 2018 ambassadorship. These self-advocates and their families provide an incredible service to the Down syndrome community and are working hard to help end the negative stigmas that are often associated with Down syndrome. Congratulations to all!
Nora is a three year old self advocate who continues to show the world there truly is nothing down about Down syndrome. She loves learning, playing with her little brother Isaac and dancing with her friends.
Nora has been to Capitol Hill several times to meet with her local state representatives and has helped pass the ABLE Act for the state of Maryland. She advocates for equality and justice for the disability community.
Nora also advocates for inclusive marketing and has modeled for Target, Gerber, Tea Collection, Parent’s Magazine and more!
Nora loves being an Ambassador for Nothing Down and hopes to continue showing the world just how capable individuals with Down Syndrome are!
**Note from the Nothing Down team~~Nora’s parents were recently named Nothing Down’s 2018 Parent Advocates of the Year at the Reach for the Stars Gala in Atlantic City, NJ. Congratulations Justin and Kimberly, and thank you for your dedication to advocacy!
Brett is 16 years old from Parker, Colorado but recently moved to Gilbert, Arizona. He is super outgoing, never meets a stranger, and has the biggest heart and most infectious laugh. Brett is a model, Disney enthusiast, adventure-seeker, and avid pajama-wearer. You will almost never see him without his beloved stuffed animals in hand, especially Bert, Woody, and Grumpy! He was a varsity cheerleader last year as a freshman and is a current Junior Denver Broncos Cheerleader. Brett is an ambassador for Make-a-Wish and was a 2015 ambassador for Children's Hospital Colorado for showing perseverance through treatment. He made international headlines last year after becoming the first child with Down syndrome to walk the runway in Denver Fashion Week! Brett is reaching others every single day and helping to change negative perceptions of Down syndrome. Adopted as an older child, Brett is proving that there are no limits to what individuals with Down syndrome can accomplish with the proper supports and love. Brett is thrilled to be returning as a lifetime ambassador for Nothing Down. We absolutely love the message being spread that there is Nothing Down About Down syndrome!
Anna is 18 years old. She’s a senior in high school and will graduate with honors in May. She has taken all mainstream classes. She is a cheerleader and softball player at her school and has been a college cheerleader for the University of West Alabama for the past two years. She was the first Alabama woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Distinguished Young Woman Program, where she was awarded the Spirit of DYW honor.
Anna has been accepted into Passage USA for the Fall 2019 semester. She plans to open her own bakery when she completes her college education.
She has three brothers and enjoys baking, dancing and texting!
Anna is an advocate for herself and others with Down syndrome. She always says “Down syndrome is O.K.”
The moment I held Emersyn for the first time, this indescribable love proved that all the negativity and misinformation I heard while pregnant was completely false. It was then that I start advocating for my daughter. Emmy has given us purpose to share her value and her worth while prayerfully helping to save the lives of babies with a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Emmy, at four years old, is smart, funny, loving, compassionate, independent, indescribably feisty, and she makes others feel special. I couldn't desire more from any child. She shares the brilliant light of everyone with Down syndrome in every picture, video, and smile, and she advocates for herself simply by being Emmy. The privilege and honor of being a Nothing Down ambassador will be held close to our hearts as we continue on this journey to spread truth and help.
This is the mischievous and fun loving River, a whirlwind with a sparkle in his eyes. His story is unique, as his diagnosis of Down syndrome wasn't known until he was six months old. UK hospitals missed it and he was later diagnosed in Tanzania where he now lives with his family, squashing culture myths and showing society just how capable people with Down syndrome are. River is feisty, determined, funny, and adventurous. He loves running, jumping, climbing, riding his trike and scooter, drawing, dancing, cars and playing with his dogs.
He is a very much loved and valued member of his family and is truly showing the world that Down syndrome really isn't so scary at all. His cheeky antics can be found at www.facebook.com/IamRiverDownSyndromeAwareness where his wonderful and worthy life is making a difference to the world. River is massively proud to be a Nothing Down ambassador alongside the other fabulous individuals by his side.
This is Chloe. She was born in March 2013 and lives in Scotland. Chloe attends dance classes, loves school, and is a well known model. This year she started acting and recently filmed her first talking role.
In a nutshell? Chloe is intelligent, capable, stubborn, determined, beautiful, funny, and just a little (well, a big!) dash of diva thrown in too.
She's overcome more than most in her life so far, the main one being her heart surgery at 10 weeks old. But in true Chloe style, she sailed through it and has never looked back. She surprises everyone she meets, and is unintentionally changing stereotypes and perceptions of Down syndrome, one fabulous day at a time.