I’ve always been a fairly active individual. I used to run for myself – for my health, to clear my head, to listen to great music, to greet the day with exercise, to feel my heart beating. It wasn’t until Hudson was born that I chose to run for someone besides myself.

Hudson was born with Down syndrome in April 2017. I knew a little bit about Down syndrome, but what I didn’t know is that one of the more common physical markers is low muscle tone. Low tone means that there is not enough tension in the muscle when it’s at rest. I’ve heard low tone compared to doing daily activities with sandbags on top of your muscles. You may tire more easily and your body works that much harder. When I think about the daily challenge Hudson must feel to keep his body moving and active, I am inspired to push myself to the next level. For me – that comes in running.

Last year was our first time at the GiGi’s Playhouse Annual 5K & Fun Run. We had received Hudson’s diagnosis six weeks earlier and I had finally been cleared to exercise. We checked in and received our numbers and shirts. On the back of the shirt, there was a white box with the statement….I run for.

We had not publicly shared Hudson’s diagnosis but for the first time, I was not only choosing to share this but also to proclaim that I no longer run for myself. I wrote in the name…Hudson.

This choice to run in his honor gave every stride more meaning and every bead of sweat more significance. As I ran across the finish line last year, I was tired and ready to be done. But there was a little boy with Down syndrome who joined me at the end and together we ran across the finish line! That could be Hudson in the future – I wanted to push myself because I know he does every day.

Yes, the physical impact of low tone encourages me to run harder. But Hudson also inspires me to be a better mom outside of exercise. I want to love how Hudson loves. I’m linguistically focused – what someone says, how they say it, the frequency, etc. The truly beautiful part about Hudson is that he loves without words! Hudson loves with his whole heart and body. I see it in the trusting way he falls asleep in my arms, the smiles he gives his siblings when they come home from school, and the giggles he has when Daddy plays with him. His love is pure and seeps from the sweetness in his soul.

I want to love like Hudson – without expectation, purely, and humbly.

This same love and admiration for a child with Down syndrome is exactly why GiGi’s Playhouse exists. Nancy Gianni wanted more for her daughter because GiGi inspired her. Nancy took that inspiration and put it into action, and because of that, my son and our family have a beautiful community to call upon and navigate this journey together. Sometimes I walk into GiGi’s Playhouse and am overwhelmed by the fact that this place exists because of a mother’s love for her child! How beautiful is that?

GiGi’s Playhouse represents the present and the future for my family. We currently receive resources from GiGi’s but we want to help GiGi’s grow so that others reap the benefits as well. That’s the gift I want to pay forward.

Running in this 5K is so much more than a number, shirt, medal or even a day on the calendar. It is running for my sweet son. It is my physical tribute to show him that I recognize the challenges he is facing and that I will work hard to help him every step of the way. Nothing can hold us back – we are at the beginning of the race and I already feel like we’ve won!


~ Hollyce, Hudson’s Mom

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