11-year old Anna Skomp is a busy little girl. When she’s not dancing, you’ll find her playing soccer, cheering, and running track at Special Olympics. A fourth grader in Noblesville Schools, Anna is a social butterfly who loves going to school and being with her friends.
“Anna has a lot of medical things going on, but you’d never know it,” says her mom Debbie. “She’s always smiling. She’s always happy.”
Debbie learned of Anna’s Down syndrome diagnosis during prenatal testing. Ironically, Debbie had been a special education teacher for nine years, so was in some ways was prepared for what lie ahead.
“I’m a planner anyway,” Debbie confesses. “So, the pre-diagnosis was a blessing for me. It allowed me time to read and research. Our family even started attending monthly parent meetings for children with Down syndrome while I was pregnant. So, by the time Anna was born we had already gone through the emotional roller coaster of the diagnosis and could celebrate her.”
Unfortunately, Anna’s Down syndrome isn’t her only medical challenge. She was also born with a heart defect. Anna has had three open heart surgeries – two before the age of two – and must receive supplemental calories through a feeding tube. Anna also suffers from ulcerative colitis and was recently diagnosed with scoliosis.
“You’d never know there’s anything wrong to look at her,” Debbie muses. “She looks healthy and is happy all the time. She never stops smiling.”
The Skomp family found GiGi’s back when it was founded in 2015. Anna has benefited from the Playhouse in many ways, but most recently through its bike riding classes.
“Anna loves GiGi’s,” Debbie beams. “And so do I. I would recommend it for everyone – especially parents new to Down syndrome. It can be overwhelming when you get that diagnosis, but GiGi’s is such a great place to connect with other families and see that you’re not alone. Sign up. Join. Get involved. We’ve made some life-long connections that have provided us with tremendous support and resources.”
Anna’s uplifting story and outlook on life are an inspiration, and we are proud to honor her as the 2019 3.21 Mile Run Youth Honoree.