Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Alli, mom to Norah, who has Down syndrome, and her older brother George, is a first-year team captain for the Columbus Buddy Walk®. “Norah blessed our lives in August 2015. My husband and I didn’t know before she was born she had Down syndrome. We actually found out the day after she was born from the hospital pediatrician. The way we received the diagnosis wasn’t the most joyful experience. We didn’t realize then, though, how much Norah would change our lives for the better and how much pure love and joy she would bring to our family.”
When asked to tell us more about Norah, Alli shared, “Norah’s smile can brighten any room. She loves to be held and is the world’s best snuggler. She likes to play with her big brother’s trucks (when he naps because he won’t let her otherwise), and loves to giggle and smile. She also loves to eat! She has the sweetest, most beautiful personality and heart. She is truly the biggest blessing to us and has given us a whole new outlook on life.”
Norah’s pediatrician first referred her family to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO). Alli reached out to the organization via Facebook and from that moment on, she has been connected with DSACO. “I’m beyond grateful to have them – they are the most amazing and supportive group of people to us. They are our extended family.” Norah’s family heard about the Columbus Buddy Walk® from DSACO’s communications with families. “I stalked DSACO’s Facebook page the night the walk team registration site went live, that’s how excited I am!” said Alli. “I couldn’t be more honored to create Team Norah’s Force and participate in the walk. I’m really looking forward to celebrating Norah alongside our family and friends!”
Norah’s family is recruiting team members to Team Norah’s Force by sharing their walk team page on Norah’s community Facebook page every Tuesday. They call these messages their #TeamTuesday posts. Alli also shared with us, “My friends have been incredible too with spreading the word. We really hope to have a good turnout to help show Norah and her friends just how incredible we think they are. They deserve every bit of this day!”
Alli admits being a first time team captain is definitely a learning experience. “I have never really fundraised before so I am still learning, but it’s amazing how much drive you have when you are truly passionate about something. DSACO has been very helpful with providing new ideas for fundraisers and connecting us to certain restaurants/shops, etc.” Alli has organized team fundraisers to help raise funds for Norah’s Force. To date, they have sold Donatos Pizza coupon books, held a LuLaRoe shopping fundraiser as well as a BJ’s Brewhouse dine to donate night, and hosted a charity garage sale. They are also planning a brewery fundraiser, a team t-shirt sale and a Stella & Dot fundraiser. Wow!
“The Columbus Buddy Walk® means a lot to me and my family,” shared Alli. “The journey we are on is not always an easy one and having support from each other, our family, friends, and the community is what helps get us through it. I also think it is so important to have an event like this as it truly shows our kids just how incredible they are. It shows them that we are working towards increasing awareness and so many people within the community have so much love for them. It is so important to me personally to be with those who offer us and Norah so much love and support through our journey.”
Alli encourages expectant and new parents to attend the walk in October. “I think this is a great opportunity to see what this community is like and how much love there is within it. One of the biggest surprises for me when I first became part of this incredible group of people last year, was how loving, kind, and supportive everyone was. We were welcomed with open arms, which was exactly what we needed at that time in our lives and the love still continues! It’s such a wonderful chance to meet other parents who have either been in this community for a while or who are newer to it as well. I think it is so important to have that support network with other parents who can relate to exactly what you are going through, and this event lends the opportunity to meet those parents.”
While there are many parts of the walk Alli is looking forward to, she is most excited to experience “coming together as a community with our friends and family to celebrate not only Norah, but this entire beautiful community of people.”
This post is a part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams sharing their unique backstories, as well as fundraising, recruitment and networking tips! Check back for future posts in this series coming soon. Submit your story ideas to: email@example.com.