Hi, My Name is Brandi Kunselman My daughter Julia was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Complete A/V canal defect at birth. After a long isolated 4 months, Julia underwent open heart surgery at Children's Hospital Boston. I remember feeling so alone, scared, and not knowing what to expect. It is so important for me that we can help other families know that they are not alone; provide them with support and show them life after this hurdle.

Julia is one of three and is a delight to her siblings and our family. She is my inspiration and my drive to make this world a better place. I am so blessed to get the chance to support,offer comfort and answers questions for other families facing challenging times.

My name is

Dawn Nichols

and my daughter Jordan was born on January 30th 2003, 7 weeks early and with an AV canal heart defect. She was only 3lbs 14oz. In the O.R after she was born the doctor asked me, "do you want to know what it is?" I said "it's a boy!" He said "no, it's a girl" He then showed her to me and said "and she looks to have Down Syndrome" We were so worried about her heart that we were not evan able to comprehend the D.S. diagnosis. She spent 1 week at Mass General Hospital and 5 weeks at Brockton Hospital. While we were there a couple of people told me that they knew someone who knew someone with Down Syndrome and that I should call them, but I didn't want to talk to anyone. We had wonderful support from our family and friends and that is all we thought we needed. Looking back I would have loved to talk to someone who had been in our shoes.

Jordan had open heart surgery at 9 months old and is now a bright and energenic 9 year old.

I love making and delivering care packages because it reminds me of how special children with Down syndrome are. There is a great sense of community among families who have kids with DS. I feel blessed to be a part of it and to meet so many wonderful people. When my daughter, Jaylin, went in for her open heart surgery, people just helped us out without needing to be asked. It really meant a lot to us, and helped make the experience easier. Now that Jaylin is a healthy eight year old, it is my turn to help others as I was helped, and I love having the opportunity. Jessica Melville

My name is Helen Zade and this is my wonderful 3 year old son Jack. We found out while I was pregnant that he was going to be born with Down Syndrome. Not knowing anyone that had Down Syndrome, I was scared. Luckily, with the love and support of my husband, Marc, my family and the nursing staff at Norwood Hospital we survived through the rough times. What helped me get through that year was meeting other families with children with Down Syndrome. Every day since he was born, Jack has been a huge source of joy and happiness and we are blessed to have him in our lives.