James was diagnosed with Down syndrome the day after he was born. It was a shocking and scary diagnosis to receive, especially as new parents, and we weren’t sure how to be parents to this complex little baby. After the initial shock, we hit the ground running and began doing research. I had some experience with children with DS as a teacher working in the special education field, but Rob and our family had no idea what to expect. The fear and worry kept us up at night and the unknown felt like an elephant sitting on our shoulders.
As time has gone on, we’ve learned that no amount of research is going to tell us who James will become or what he can do. He has broken stereotypes, rocked milestones, and proven doctors wrong. He has done things that they said he couldn’t do or that would take him much longer. James is a smart, determined, affectionate, funny litle man with a BIG personality. He doesn’t give up until he perfects a skill, like his crazy-fast crawl or his attention to fine motor activities. He is unstoppable (and for those of you that know him, you know that he doesn’t EVER stop) and his diagnosis does not slow him down! James has significantly changed our outlook on life and taught us so many profound lessons. I now look back at the tears cried and the sleepless nights, and I regret the time wasted worrying about the future, instead of just enjoying the big gift we received in the form of a tiny chicken nugget package.
We first toured GiGi’s back in April of 2017 while we were in town visiting family and James was just 3 months old. We decided to just drop by the Playhous and see what it was all about. We were immediately welcomed by Alison with a warm smile and open arms, and we were given a full tour of the Playhouse. We took notice of all the friendly faces, colorful toys, the clean facility, and we were amazed that all the services they provided were FREE. We were ecstatic that this existed for our little man, and we couldn’t wait to move back to the area and begin attending the programs.
In August of 2017, we moved back and by September, we were attending LMNOP weekly. We met so many amazing families and kids with Down syndrome and truly felt part of the most welcoming and accepting commnity. James began to come out of his shell and his love for music only grew. We’ve since learned countless signs, which have helped tremendously with his language, and formed some wonderful friendships.
We are thrilled to participate in our third GiGi’s 5K and support an outstanding organization that has made it its mission to spread love, acceptance, and awareness for our children. That is why we run! Watch our video to see James in action!