• July 31, 2020 2:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Most people with Down syndrome are at “high risk” for COVID-19 because of certain underlying medical conditions. DSAF is proud to support GLOBAL and this IMPORTANT UPDATED Q&A about Down Syndrome & COVID-19.

    This UPDATED Q&A includes important new resource links, information on returning to school, work and programs, and health outcomes for people with Down syndrome who have contracted COVID-19. We strongly recommend you read through this important resource and stay vigilant during this devastating pandemic.

    We applaud the national consortium of Down syndrome organizations for creating this important resource for community. Please remember we are here for you during this difficult time and do not hesitate to call or email. In the meantime, please stay healthy and be safe!

  • May 18, 2020 3:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s nearly 5pm when I should be wrapping up my usual day’s work, but I can’t because I’m sitting here still trying to think of what to write to DSAF friends and allies to lighten your load. Everything is so different these days now that COVID-19 is part of our lives. I’m now not only a mom, wife, and marketer/fundraiser – I’m also a teacher, special educator, psychologist, referee, sidewalk chalk artist, nurse, and SO much more.

    I share this not to have you feel sorry for me – but rather to let you know that I’m right there with you. DSAF is right there with you. When you wonder how on earth you will be able to handle it all, DSAF is thinking about you. As you are reading this know that YOU are in our minds. YOU and your loved one with Down syndrome are our beacon. YOU give us purpose. YOU make us search out new ways to connect virtually so we can share smiles, be inspired, cheer each other on, and provide (virtual) shoulders to cry on.

    There is good in the world. And YOU are that Good. COVID may have altered what our reality looks like right now, but COVID Can’t Stop Good.

    Together we will get through this. Together we will continue to support all people with Down syndrome in Nebraska. Thank you for carrying the torch and walking this journey with us. We are here for you!

    Thinking of you, 


    P.S. Your contributions for this Give to Lincoln Day will help DSAF continue to do good all throughout Nebraska. Please spread the word and be generous on May 28, 2020!  

  • April 20, 2020 3:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Click the image below to check out this April Smile Message from DSAF Board and Staff. We are still here for YOU!

  • November 06, 2019 4:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I Wish I Would Have Known
    By, Jessica Gushard

    I wish I would have known that forced smile on my face would soon be a smile I can’t wipe away. I wish I knew those little eyes would turn blue and stare at me to tell me it’s okay. I wish I knew that palmer crease on your left hand would soon grip my finger at every feeding telling me I’m needed. I wish I knew all that hair would soon go in a ponytail and make your brothers laugh until they fell to the ground. I wish I knew that despite all the unknowns and scares with a diagnosis, you would make us better people. I wish I knew how many friends we would soon make and have by our side every step of the way. I wish I knew how much life would change for the better.

    Briggs Barrington, I’m scared for our new life, but most importantly, I’m excited and confident we are going to have a great one.

    Diagnosis day is no joke, but day by day, it becomes a smidge easier. #upsyndrome #lovemyhomie


  • September 09, 2019 4:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Blessed to Call You My Son
    By, Jennifer Vancura

    We found out that our son Camden was going to have Down syndrome halfway through our pregnancy. On ultrasound, it was discovered that he had duodenal atresia (a blockage in the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine). We were told that about one-third of infants born with duodenal atresia will have Down syndrome. At that point we had to know, so an Amniocentesis was performed.

    I will never forget waiting for the call that Saturday morning. The phone rang. I was terrified to answer, knowing that in an instant I would be extremely happy or completely devastated. I picked up the phone and answered with my husband Blake sitting by my side.

    I was told the news I had feared so much. Our son was going to have Down syndrome. We felt hopeless. Hopeless for what our son’s life would look like, hopeless for what parenthood would be like, and hopeless for what our family would be like – different from the one that we imagined. The dreams that we had for our son felt completely shattered.

    Camden arrived on July 3, 2018, at 9:58 PM. I got to hold him for a quick picture and then they took him straight to the NICU. Camden went into surgery on July 4, 2018. Surgery went well and we were in the NICU for 2 weeks while he recovered.

    Early on, we contacted the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska for support. It has been amazing to receive the support from other families and to see these families happy and flourishing. I have built strong relationships with the families in the community. We all have a special bond with each other. We call ourselves “The Lucky Few” for a reason.

    Blake and I have had several high points this past year that Camden has been in our lives. Watching him grow and develop, getting to know his amazing personality, and seeing his smiles and laughs that melt our hearts over and over again. He has brought us a greater sense of purpose that has enriched our lives.

    It does take a little more work for Camden to reach his milestones; but the extra effort makes every milestone a cause for celebration. We utilize the Early Childhood Development program through Lincoln Public Schools. As a team, we set goals and interventions so that Camden may reach his fullest potential.

    I’ve been reflecting on our life before Camden and how humbling it has been to learn from him. One thing Camden has taught me is to accept and see the beauty in everyone. He has changed my perspective about people with unique differences and abilities. I now see immense beauty in differences, whereas before I may have thought the differences to be more of a flaw. He has taught us how to accept people as they are, regardless of their abilities and differences.

    This past year we have fallen completely in love with Camden. Down syndrome has quickly become background noise. All that matters is that our child is happy and healthy. We finally realized what everyone was telling us the entire time to be true – that he is just our child. He is not the Down syndrome child; he is Camden.

    If I could go back in time and relive one moment, I would go back to the day I heard the words “your child has Down syndrome”. I would want to replace that anxiety, sorrow, and anger with different emotions; hopeful ones. I wish I would not have cried all those tears, however, I do feel it was necessary to grieve the loss of the child we thought we were going to have.

    To the new Moms or Dads facing the diagnosis of Down syndrome, I want you to know that in the end your child will “just be your kid”. You will love them more than you think you could love someone and you will embrace them for who they are. They will make you see life in a new beautiful way, I promise.

    Try not to fear the unknown. I remember fearing all the “what if’s” and I let the fears consume me. “What if he never leaves the house?” “What if he wants to have a child someday?” “What if his peers don’t accept him?” And the list went on and on. Most of the fears that I had dwelled on, have completely faded away. Don’t waste your time fearing the unknown. Have faith that life will be better than you could ever imagine.

    Camden, every day I am thankful that we were chosen to be so abundantly blessed to learn from you. How you have helped us grow! You are much more than I could have imagined prior to knowing the Down syndrome diagnosis. I am blessed to call you my son.

    Support Camden and families just like Jennifer and Blake’s by participating in the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk on October 5, 2019. Every contribution, large or small, will help change lives.

  • September 03, 2019 12:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Just His Sister
    By, Torri Attebury

    Mia was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome via amniocentesis. Besides possible medical complications, my biggest concern was her older brother, Nathan.

    Nathan was 3 ½ and had just started preschool. We had told him he was going have a little sister a few weeks prior to Mia’s diagnosis. His biggest worry about being a big brother at that time – “where was she was going to sleep?” After her diagnosis, though, my biggest worry was if Nathan would know she was different. Would he even like her? What would their sibling relationship look like? Would he be able and willing to take care of her when we were gone? Would he defend her from others? How would we tell Nathan his baby sister would be different than his friends’ baby siblings?

    As part of the preparation for Mia’s birth, I reached out to the Down Syndrome Association for Families (DSAF). I was placed in contact with a DSAF First Call mom who had a prenatal diagnosis with her second child as well. I met with her while I was still pregnant and after Mia was born. She supported me and gave me advice on how to prepare our family for life with Down syndrome. She suggested the book, “We’ll Paint the Octopus Red,” by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, as a way to tell Nathan about his sister’s diagnosis.

    We read, “We’ll Paint the Octopus Red,” to Nathan. He didn’t understand what Down syndrome meant. He understood he was going to have a baby sister, though, and that Grandma was going to come stay with him while we were at the hospital. When asked for his opinion on what to name his sister, he said, “Devious Diesel.” Diesel is the name of one of the characters in the “Thomas the Tank Engine” stories who sometimes tricks Thomas. Thomas and his friends include Diesel even though he is a diesel and they are steam engines.       

    Mia was born on a Friday, she was cleared by the NICU team within 10 minutes of birth, and we left the hospital with Mia on Sunday. Nathan was most upset he didn’t get to spend more time alone with Grandma.

    From the moment we brought Mia home, her Nathan has been there for her. First, trying to figure out how to play with her. He built train tracks around her and would wait for “Hurricane Mia” to destroy them. Now, it’s how to keep her out of his room.  

    As a mom, I have loved watching their relationship grow. When Mia was about 8 months old, I was wrapping Christmas presents. Nathan was diligently writing name tags. Mia wanted his attention. She rolled over and grabbed a wrapping paper tube and hit him with it. He yelled “Mia, stop!” She laughed. Then he smiled and laughed! In this one moment, my fears of their relationship disappeared. She was going to stand up to him, annoy him, play with him, and love him. He would do the same in return. 

    Now, Mia is a preschooler and has proven to be a strong, outgoing, and opinionated little girl. She tries to sneak into Nathan’s room to play with his toys when he is not looking. She will convince him to dress up as a fairy ninja. She will persuade him to do what she wants with a smile and a giggle. Her favorite part of the day is picking Nathan up from school. She waits until she sees him come out the door and then runs up and hugs him. She high fives his friends and teacher. He then takes her by the hand and walks with her back to the car. She has her devious moments with him, but mostly they love each other. To Nathan, she isn’t a sister with Down syndrome, she is just his sister. #JustASister

    Step up for a great cause and support siblings just like Nathan and Mia by participating in the 2019 Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk on October 5. Your generosity will help change lives.

  • August 29, 2019 10:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Learning Through Lily
    By, Tracy Kadavy

    I wish I could go back in time and give myself a pep talk when I was a scared and worried expectant mom sitting in the fetal maternal specialist office. I was swallowed up by what I thought was devastating news that our unborn daughter had Down syndrome.  I didn’t realize at the time that I had actually just been given the greatest news of all time. News that would forever change the course of my life for the better.

    If I get a hold of that magical time machine this is what I would tell myself:  

    I know this news is unexpected and you are in shock and disbelief and can barely see through your tears. That is a normal reaction when the life path you are on suddenly changes directions. You have to take a deep breath and allow yourself to be open to a bigger, brighter plan around the corner. I will be honest; it will take some time. After you grieve the family you thought you wanted, you will start to celebrate the family you needed. Your family will be changed in ways you never thought possible.

    Go ahead and allow yourself to enjoy your pregnancy. Agree to have a pink princess baby shower for Lily instead of declining one because you don’t want anyone to feel awkward. Believe me you will regret that later.

    Go ahead and meet your new neighbors on your new street. Not only will they support you, but one will be the first nurse to greet your daughter in the NICU.

    I know it is impossible believe all of this as your well-meaning fetal maternal specialist bumbles through trying to explain what Down syndrome is with random stories of all the people he knows with an extra chromosome. The only saving grace from this appointment will be the big, white binder from some local organization called the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska

    Sure, some of your legitimate worries and challenges will come true – an all-or-nothing lifesaving heart surgery at nine weeks, oxygen for a year, airway and feeding issues, hypermobile joints, and leg braces. But let me tell you, those medical complications will resolve, and the challenges will make the accomplishments so much sweeter. Many of the irrational fears running through your head will not come true and in fact will have the opposite outcome.

    Don’t worry that Lily will be shunned and snickered at in public. The biggest challenge in your public appearances will be controlling the mobs of fans and remembering the names of everyone who knows her. You will wonder sometimes if you need to hire an agent for your star. No one will remember your name. From now on, you will only be known as “Lily’s mom.” A title that will mean much more to you than the doctorate you earned.

    Don’t lose sleep about Lily not being able to walk for over two years. Sure, it will take a bit longer, but in in a couple of years you will find yourself chasing after Lily in Target thinking to yourself, “That physical therapy worked a little too well.”

    Talking? Don’t worry about that either. Lily walks up and talks to everyone she meets. And when she gets sassy and demands Barney on the kindle, you also question the Catch 22 of the excellent speech therapy.

    School? Not a problem. She will run out to the bus and barely look back to say bye as you are crying about her maturity and independence. Don’t waste your time and tears worrying if your daughter will be able to learn. Lily will come home from Kindergarten after the first week and tell you she is bored with learning preschool stuff.

    I know you love taking Jayden to music and swim class, the zoo, and museum, and you assume this is not in cards for your unborn daughter. You are convinced Lily won’t be able to do the things your typical child is able to do. What an unbearable thought. Shhh. I’ve got a secret to tell you. The child you are carrying with that extra-talented chromosome will not only participate in music and swimming, but she will sign up for cheer, dance, t-ball, and theater. In six years, you won’t be heartbroken because of the lack of activities, you will be heartbroken because there are not enough days in week for all the activities.

    And don’t think about giving up family vacations. By the time Lily is five, she will have a couple stamps in her passport taking her on journeys to swim with dolphins and sea lions. Something you didn’t do until you were in college.

    Friends you say? Lily will have friends of all ages, races, and beliefs. She makes friends and melts hearts wherever she goes. I will challenge you to find a more extroverted child than Lily.

    Will her siblings like her? Jayden and Brynn adore, protect, and help Lily on the bus, at school, search for glasses she lost for the hundredth time, tuck her in at night, and watch her perform in front of 2,000 people at the Lied Center. They will laugh and play, and be better people because of Lily.

    I assure you every day will be a gift and a joy. You will grow as a person, mom, advocate, and friend. Right now, you don’t think you can be a parent of a special needs child, but that will all change when you open that white DSAF binder and make that first call. The uncertain pregnant mom you feel like today will quickly be transformed into a proud, fierce Mama Bear. Your grief will resolve and your heart will be full. You will never look back at the tears of sadness you feel today. You will only look forward to the tears of joy you will feel tomorrow.

    Hang on, you are in store for a wild ride!

    To support moms just like Tracy and their beautiful children like Lily, join us for this year's Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk on October 5, 2019. Every  donation makes a difference and an impact on a local family of a child with Down syndrome. 

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