2018 Nothing Down Ambassadors
Brett is a 14 year old with quite a story to tell! When he's not busy crushing stereotypes and limits, he is on the Varsity Cheer team at his high school, models with a local agency, cheers for the Junior Denver Bronco Cheerleaders, and spends as much time traveling as possible (especially to Disneyland)! Brett is an ambassador for Make-A-Wish and for Miss Amazing (as a right hand man). He is a former ambassador for Children's Hospital Colorado.
Last year, Brett was awarded with the Outstanding Youth Award in his county - an honor that only 10 teens in the whole county received. Brett has appeared in a music video and will be the only child with a disability modeling in Denver Fashion Week! He never meets a stranger and is full of life, joy, and charisma. Brett is a Disney enthusiast and you will almost never see him without his favorite stuffed animals in hand. He was adopted from the foster care system by his special education teacher and is the true definition of overcoming challenges and showing the world what he is capable of!
Keevon is 8 years old and is in the second grade. Keevon plays baseball every year and also participated in a fashion show called "Smile Your Beautiful!" Keevon is our youngest child. He’s the sweetest person we know, has quite the sense of humor and is an amazing little boy!
He loves the guitar and eating his favorite food- french fries! Keevon started walking at 3 years old and he recently got out of diapers! He loves going to school and learning. Keevon has taught our family the true meaning of love. We are so blessed that God chose us to be Keevon's parents and we wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world! He is truly an angel sent from above!
Otischa has taken on the world with courage, gratitude, and ambition. She was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana under the loving care of a supportive family. Growing up, her mother did not treat her any differently than her other children. Otischa was encouraged to explore all the abilities that the Lord graced upon her, and to embrace her extra special role in life.
Otischa’s positive attitude continues to shine through all obstacles. At the tender age of nine she began talking. Shortly after this breakthrough her musical talents began to flourish. She plays a variety of instruments such as piano, drums, saxophone, flute, and guitar. Otischa plays the piano in church. She also volunteers and performs at daycares, nursing homes, and homeless shelters. She was recognized at the National Down Syndrome Convention in Sacramento, CA for playing Beethoven’s Fur Elise on the piano. She participates in Christian dance, jazz, tap, hip hop, zumba and liturgical dance. She is also in the KISS for Kids Performing Arts Academy and Eau Inferno Entertainment Group. Otischa enjoys sports and has won titles in track, bowling, baseball and basketball, as well as a 1st place gold medal in the Special Olympics for golf!
Otischa currently attends UNLV's F.O.C.U.S. program. She looks forward to becoming an independent and productive member of society. Otischa would like to follow in her family's footsteps by managing an entertainment agency. She aspires to employ individuals with special needs to show the world that a company can prosper with people just like her.
Otischa inspires others through her website www.ilovehotpinkandblack.com . She hopes to encourage others to rise above preconceived limitations and know that all things are possible with faith, devotion, and love.
Francesca is Nothing Down's ambassador for the country of Malta. She was born in October of 2015 and is two years old. Francesca goes to a mainstream school. She loves her friends and teachers and everybody loves her in return. She enjoys every moment of her time at school and loves participating in all the different activities and games. She also loves to swim and spend time in the water. She participates in swimming lessons and has been going since she was only 3 months old.
Francesca is a natural in front of the camera and has been invited to take part in many television programs to create awareness. Francesca's parents aim to change any negative perceptions that people may have of individuals with Down syndrome. Earlier this year Francesca made international headlines when she became the Maltese ambassador for Nothing Down.
Francesca's parents feel that everyday with her is a blessing. She has such a lovely and sweet character that melts their hearts daily. She is a true gift to all who know her.
This is our sweet Harper Ann! Harper is just about 2 years old. She was diagnosed with Mosaic Down syndrome about a month after birth, although we were told she was high risk around 13 weeks gestation.
Harper was born without any major health problems or heart defects. She does have severe sleep apnea, but is otherwise perfectly healthy!
She is such a social butterfly. She will wave to you and blow you kisses anywhere. She’s not quite walking just yet but she’s almost there! Either way, she can get to where she needs to go with ease and speed. She loves to join in on all of the fun with her three older brothers! They adore her so much.
Harper is learning sign language on her journey to verbal communication. She knows how to say more, dog, cracker, cereal, and blows kisses to show love. She is starting to show her personality a lot recently and I’ll tell you what, it is full of sass!
Harper doesn’t let her extra special diagnosis get in her way. She loves life with everything she’s got. I know she will continue to break all of the stereotypes, prove them wrong, thrive and show everyone that she is capable. Our lives have been blessed immensely in so many ways since she was born. We are on Harper’s journey, and she’s our tour guide!
Bryant is 21 months old, and only 11 months younger than his brother Colton. When we welcomed him into our family, his extra chromosome was a surprise! Thankfully though, Bryant has no health issues.
We have embraced this journey as a family, and learned that even in 2018 we still need to be fierce advocates for Bryant and those with Down syndrome. There are still so many misconceptions about Down syndrome and about the quality of life of those rocking an extra chromosome. So, we are setting out to change the thoughts of those around us.
Bryant is a stubborn little boy, who clearly won’t be told he cannot do something. In his short life, he has achieved milestone after milestone in his own time. He has a smile and laugh that can brighten any room he's in and a hug that is like no other.
Overall, our goal is to share Bryant’s life and show just how typical it is. We want the world to see that life with Down syndrome is not something to fear, but is rather something to embrace. We hope to send the message that there truly is Nothing Down about Down syndrome!
CLARA & CUTLER
Clara and Cutler are toddler BFFs and absolutely radiate life, love, and awesomeness. They rock their bonus chromosomes and share stories of their daily lives to spread awareness, acceptance, and education on both Facebook and Instagram (@claraandcutler). The pint-sized power-couple also does all they can in their own neighborhood to support Down syndrome awareness.
They Co-Chair the local Buddy Walk (with a little help from their moms) and are Childrens Miracle Network Ambassadors for the regions only children's hospital. These two (and their mommies) share an incredible bond and prove that you are never too little to make a HUGE difference. These babies will change the world!
Nora is a two year old self advocate who continues to show the world there truly is nothing down about Down syndrome. She comes from a very supportive family and has many 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 is planning another trip to our Nation’s Capitol this year and cannot wait to show Congress what she is capable of!
Pearson Lane is the name of this brave but fierce little boy. He has blessed this world with 20 months and countless more to come. A personality of gold, a smile brighter than the sun, and eyes that twinkle like the stars are sure to stop you in your tracks!
As we grow through the discipline of therapy, doctors recommendations, and social interaction, we find one thing to be true. A heart like Pearson’s can’t be developed, practiced, or learned. Some say pure heart indeed, I say a gift from God. A gift that keeps on giving!
Emily was born on January 30th, 2016. After a long and courageous battle in the hospital pending her TWO open heart surgeries, Emily is here today and thriving. She inspires thousands with a simple smile. She is very much a typical 2 year old in that she gives a lot of sass.
She may not physically be able to keep up with her peers but she radiates love and compassion and brings an entire group of strangers together in life, prayer and HOPE through her page Emily Heart! Even in the darkest and most scariest times, she keeps smiling. Emily is not behind, everyone else just needs to catch up! Down syndrome is the best blessing i never asked for!
My name is Austin Underwood. I am 39 years old, but this year I hit the big 40! I am celebrating my 40th Birthday in Las Vegas! Yeah! I own my own business that my Mom helped me start, selling custom hot dawgs from a food truck. We sell from our new truck, an RV which is really cool. We book parties for people, birthdays and business lunches, all in our area of Fort Worth-Dallas Texas. The name of my company is Austin’s Underdawgs. I have an employe who also has Down syndrome. Daniel is only 21, so I get to teach him a lot. I live on my own in my own condo. I love it and keep it really clean and nice. I can cook food for myself and I think cooking is fun. My best meal is breakfast. I make a really good omelet. I have also been married and then sadly, divorced. I miss my wife, but I never get to see her. Her mother made us get divorced. Now, I work two jobs to keep busy.
I work 4 nights a week as a host at an Italian restaurant near to me. I love my boss, David Campisi, he is the best! The restaurant is named Campisi’s. I have been there almost 5 years. They let me off when the hot dawg season gets really busy. We have sold almost 20,000 hot dawgs in less than two years! My Mom wants to offer a Franchise, so if anyone is interested in owning their own business, you should really contact my Mom. It is super fun and easy to manage, if you use our formula for business, you can be a success doing what I do, just like me. If you ever visit Fort Worth, Texas, please visit me! Check out both my Facebook page and my website, www.austinsunderdawgs.com. I also have The Each & Everyone Foundation, we created to help people get Vocational skills that can lead to jobs in your community.
I am so proud to be able to help others achieve what I have been able to accomplish. I am also proud to be an ambassador for Nothing Down!
Dorja is 11 years old and is excited to become Nothing Down's ambassador for the country of Croatia. When Dorja was born, we were devastated and sad to find out that she had Down syndrome, especially me. However, as time passed, she completely changed our world. We started to see our life's circumstances as happiness and new possibilities.
Dorja has a great sense of humor and is so full of love. She tells me she loves me all throughout the day and gives us lots of hugs and kisses. I'm learning from her and becoming a better person because of her. With Dorja, we've been given the gift of pure love.
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 6 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 fiesty, 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 children by his side.
Eli is a 4 year old boy with and infectious smile. Making other people laugh is one of his favorite things to do. He loves to give his love to everyone and watch people love on each other. He makes having a bad day around him pretty hard as joy is typically oozing from his every ounce. He makes life fun and full of zest!
Eli works hard in his pre-K class and he even has a talent agent! You can follow his life’s journey at www.facebook.com/RaisingEli.
My name is Jessica Faith. I was born in March 1999 with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism. I am 2nd oldest of 5 girls.
I am a spunky advocate and emerging leader, learning how to speak up for myself and others like me. I really like to encourage others and tell them they're doing a good job. I went to the Youth Leadership Forum in 2015 and want to go back as a counselor. I attend our monthly County DD Board meetings. I attended our Statewide Community Summit for people with disabilities last year and want to be a presenter there someday.
I like to tell my story of how Doctors said I would never walk or talk. I had lots of medical problems and lots of surgeries on my brain, ears, throat, and back. But God helped me and I am a walking talking miracle.
I graduated in 2017 and am now attending College for my transition program. I work at Jamba Juice 2-3 days a week. (My co-workers say that everybody has a better day when I'm working because I have such a good attitude.) I sing in a band and am a Special Olympics athlete - basketball and bowling are my favorites. I love church, especially youth group.
I'm proud of who I am and don't let my disabilities hold me back from being involved with family, friends, church, and my community. Life is great. Woo hoo!
Phillippa is 18 months old from North Wales, UK. She loves eating all kinds of food especially off Mummy's plate! Chocolate and biscuits dipped in coffee is a firm favorite!
She is happy playing on her own with her toys or with others. Phillippa enjoys knocking down building blocks before you have a chance of putting more than a couple together and loves to chase her light up balls across the floor. She loves listening to any music and dances (a little wiggle at the moment but very cute!) She does a good impression of a drum kit with an old Christmas chocolate tin!
Phillippa is very loving, determined, attitude and is an absolute joy to be around. My little miss sassy pants.
At three years old, Ben has a loyal fan club of family and friends who have been captured by his kind nature and clever sense of humor. He draws people to him like a cuteness magnet and spreads smiles wherever we go. Currently, Ben loves the alphabet and numbers up to ten and has learned to point them out in English and French.
His signing skills have excelled his parents, using over a hundred signs regularly. He is passionate about ball sports and has already begun Active Start British Columbia, his training for Special Olympics! He also loves music, books, cuddles and giggles, in no particular order.
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 started 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 nearly three years old, is smart, funny, loving, compassionate, independent, incredibly 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 hope.
This is Chloe.
She was born in March 2013, attends dance classes, mainstream nursery, and will be starting school this year too.
She recently took part in her first annual dance show, in front of roughly 500 people, and has proved that she was DEFINITELY born for the stage!
In a nutshell? Chloe is intelligent, capable, stubborn, determined, beautiful, funny, with 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.
This is Kaden Hildreth from Montana. He is 5 1/2 years old. Currently he is in his third year of preschool, but he will be starting Kindergarten in August. He loves listening and dancing to music, especially Imagine Dragons and Fall Out Boy. He also loves to draw, play with play-dough, and watch halloween youtube videos.
If he isn't playing by himself, he is probably playing with his younger and older sisters, his two dogs, his mom and dad, or his grandparents. Kaden has one of the biggest hearts, is incredibly social, and has the most contagious laugh ever.
Stella is a smart, sassy, head strong, sweet 5 year old girl. She has 2 big brothers that always have her back. She attends pre-k in a fully inclusive classroom where she is loved by her peers. When she’s not at school, Stella loves to watch movies. Some of her favorites are The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Moana & The Secret Life of Pets.
She loves to swing, slide and swim during the warmer seasons. Her favorite foods are chicken nuggets, cookies and ice cream. She is a momma’s girl and gives the very best hugs you’ve ever had in your life. Stella is loved by so many and has really impacted so many lives already.
Carter will be four years old on January 20th. His favorite hobbies include taking pictures, singing, and dancing. His favorite snack is white cheddar popcorn.
Carter is best described as energetic, silly, lovable, and determined. He has an instinctive sense of compassion that shines through his comforting spirit. As his mother and his advocate, I want people to see the unique individual that Carter is, with Down Syndrome just being part of him, but not defining who he is or who he will become.
Sometimes, life can be very challenging. But the struggles are just as real as the fearless love we share. I want people to see how PROUD we are of Carter, right down to the last chromosome.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to share Carter's story through the wonderful and beautiful organization that is Nothing Down!
Kristijan is 2 1/2 years old. He lives in Zagreb (Croatia) with his family. Kristijan has touched so many lives already and will continue to be such a positive influence in our community. He loves music, playing with instruments, cars and chasing balls.
We love our little boy. He is our little blessing! We are very proud that Kristijan was chosen to be the Nothing Down Ambassador for Croatia.
Anna is 17 years old and a junior in high school, and has three brothers. She is a cheerleader and also plays with her high school softball team. She is a member of the National Beta Club. Anna enjoys volunteering with Legacy Hospice in her hometown. She models and loves fashion shows and is so determined to live life to the fullest. Anna plans to attend college but is unsure of where at this moment.
She believes in herself and in the potential of all people with Down Syndrome. She is known to say, “you can do it, just keep trying”. Anna doesn’t see herself as any different than her friends. She knows she has Down syndrome, but truly sees herself just like anybody else. What a brave, beautiful, smart girl she is! If everyone could see life through Anna's eyes and saw everyone the same, what a world we would live in!
Skyler was our little miracle that came to us in June 2014. We didn’t know anything about Down syndrome prior to that day. We jumped right in and read everything we could to educate ourselves. Skyler has surely brought the meaning of true love and understanding to our family. He has opened our hearts and minds beyond measure. He is our little ray of sunshine with a side of attitude.
We are forever blessed.
We run a non-profit organization that sends welcome baskets to babies born/ adopted with Down syndrome all over the world called Skyler's Smile Baskets.
We also have an awareness page called Skyler Sharing Smiles on Facebook.
When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world, and our beautiful boy has the world's undivided attention. Asher Nash was born smiling, literally. He has always loved entertaining others and being in front of the camera. He ended up taking the internet by storm in 2016 and became the first person with a disability to appear in an OshKosh ad! Since then, he has worked with several other brands and even the A&E Network and the cast of "Born This Way." He was Num Num's first ever ambassador in 2017 and he now adds the Nothing Down organization to this list!
Asher has taught us that a diagnosis does not define who you are. He will do anything and everything he wants to do with his life. Down syndrome does not hold him back from living a meaningful life and neither will society. If anything, he is making the lives of everyone who knows him more meaningful. I know my life would not be the same without him in it. Our family cannot wait to see what the future holds for him, because we know it's going to be amazing!
This is ZoëBeth. She is five years old and is currently attending K-5 at our local elementary school. There she loves learning with friends, rocking the playground, and hugging teachers. When not at school she is usually out meeting people and participating in events for one of our local organizations.
ZoëBeth helps advocate with The Run Up 4 Downs, The Central Mississippi Down Syndrome Society, and the Children's Miracle Network. I call her my "Mermaid-baby" because she will spend hours in the pool. She has been swimming on a competitive swimteam since she was three years old, Go Sealions!
We are so proud of our sweet, smart, loving girl. We look forward to working with Nothing Down to help show the world how amazing life with Down syndrome can be!
PING JOY & LIAM WORTH
Ping Joy joined our family on July 26, 2017 and became an American citizen on August 5, 2017. She was born in China 8 years ago and had open heart surgery to repair an ASD/VSD defect. She lived most of her life in an orphanage. Even though the odds were stacked against her she is a warrior. Ping is strong and determined. She learns new things quickly and loves big. She has blessed our family and community with her sweet spirit and infectious giggle. Ping loves Moana, yogurt, and the song, "Where is Thumbkin". She is our chosen daughter and so incredibly loved!
Liam Worth is four years old and full of energy and enthusiasm. He is a very busy little boy. He joined our family six months ago and has brought us so much joy! Liam loves to wrestle, sword fight and crash toy cars. He is learning English and surprising us with his ability to understand so many words. Liam has a sweet side and loves to cuddle stuffed animals and snuggle with his Mama. He is our surprise child and has taught us how to love unconditionally. We are among the lucky few to be blessed by adoption and Down syndrome.
Jack is a typical 13-year-old teenager. He loves music, sports, video games, playing outside, his dog Rocky, and spending time with his family and friends. Jack swims for The Special Olympics New Jersey for Burlington County. He recently started taking guitar lessons and can already play a handful of songs including the Philadelphia Eagles' Fight Song (GO BIRDS!). Jack comes from a big family; he has a mom and dad, two older sisters, two older brothers, and an 8-year-old niece! Jack brings nothing but love and happiness to his family and everyone he meets.
There is something very special about Jack. People are just drawn to him. Wherever Jack goes, good things happen. He lights up any room he walks into and welcomes every person he meets with open arms. He changes lives for the moment, and possibly forever. Down syndrome does not define Jack- it simply makes him who he is. Jack has a smile that is contagious and a personality that is even more infectious. Jack is a character to say the least; he definitely loves being the center of attention. Whether he is putting on a concert at home, doing impersonations, or singing with his brother and sister's band, he is always entertaining people!
Jack is a beautiful, smart, funny young man with the biggest heart in the world. Jack is one of the lucky ones. He is the way God intended all of us to be. We can all learn a lot from someone like Jack. He just "gets" life and lives it to the fullest each and every day. Jack is proving to the world that there is nothing down about Down syndrome!
Phoebe Kochis is more than just a pageant queen. In fact, that was never even a dream of hers. Phoebe has always dreamed of being a dancer and a chef. She has achieved one of those dreams.
She is a dancer in a competition company, dancing with and competing against typical peers. She has worked very hard for 14 years, climbing her way up to the level she has achieved so far, dancing in ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, broadway, and lyrical styles. She has a solo this year in all of her competitions.
Along the way, she decided at the last minute to enter the Miss Amazing Pageant in her home state of Colorado and ended up winning in the Teen division. She used that opportunity to build a platform for self-advocacy and encouragement with a tagline of "Reach For The Stars!" Being in the organization for a year gave her the chance to open more doors not only for herself, but others as well who never thought they could.
Her goal of being a chef one day is on the horizon as she completes her last year of high school and looks forward to culinary school. She plans to continue to dance and learn new styles that she has never tried before. #ReachForTheStars
Alyssa was born on Christmas Eve 1996. She has had ten surgeries, including open heart surgery for three holes in her heart at ten weeks old. She was fully included from preschool through the third grade. She was then pulled for Math and Reading only. She worked towards a certificate of completion in high school and graduated in the top 10 of her 2015 class. She was voted Homecoming Queen and participated in many talent shows and school plays. She is still at her high school, learning job skills, and has her own "Lyssa's Lattes" coffee cart, where she sells coffee to the teachers every morning.
Alyssa made history this past August by becoming the first woman with Down syndrome in the state of Michigan to be in a Miss Michigan preliminary pageant. She did not win a title, but was voted Miss Congeniality by the other contestants.