Local support group lending strength to parents of children with Down syndrome
They were two moms who had been through the gamut of emotions after having a child born with a disability. They stood together and sought out others to share the challenges and milestones of the ones they call their "Genes of Joy."
“I was terrified. I was terrified. I will say, for at least a good two weeks, I cried nonstop. That was a very dark time, I will be honest,” said Danielle Caroll.
“We started Genes of Joy just to be a sounding board for other parents with children like ours,” explained Genes of Joy Co-founder Katie Moore.
Danielle and Katie and talking about their children with Down syndrome, or D.S.
When her daughter, Amelia Kate, was born four years ago, Katie didn't have that sounding board. She met another mother of a child with Down syndrome, Christi McDonald. They met Mary Graves and the three of them founded Genes of Joy.
“It's genetic, so it's in your genes made up and joy, they bring so much joy to our lives. We named it Genes of Joy,” Katie said.
In no time at all, the support group began to grow. The families have outings, play dates, listening ears and a shoulder to lean on from time to time.
“It's just important to have someone be able to walk alongside you when your child isn't a neurotypical child, when your child has struggles that other children don't have,” Katie said.
For Danielle Carroll, making that connection to Genes of Joy gave her strength and reassurance that everything was going to be OK, even better than OK.
“You can Google everything, but it's just not the same as the one-on-one that we share. There's something completely different about being involved with an organization that shares the experiences, the challenges and achievements that I share with Haven,” Danielle said.
The families will tell you that in the life of a special needs child, every milestone is a huge thing. Those ‘can do’ moments are a cause for celebration. It's things like going down the big slide all by yourself for the first time!
Genes of Joy has an open invitation for every parent of a child with Down syndrome to join their extended family. And they'd like for everyone to get to know and understand their incredible children.
“I think that's the most important thing, is bringing acceptance to our children,” Katie said.
“I'm thankful because there's going to be more and more moms like me that need this organization to turn to. I am blessed that they are here. I'm so grateful,” Danielle said.