Connexions Blog

"Building stronger communities by sharing inspiration, advice, and best practices that work".

Ds-connex Presents: The Fifth Annual Super Sibs Contest

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

This October, in observance of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we are excited to once again recognize the Super Sibs of our loved ones with Down syndrome! Siblings tend to be very aware of the impact of having a brother or sister with extra needs, and we often hear amazing stories about how they love, encourage, and embrace both the highs and lows of their relationships with their siblings with Down syndrome. We want to take the opportunity to highlight these examples because we believe that children are the key to the future of an inclusive world. Furthermore, we know that these Super Sibs are key players in leading this movement.

Please join us in applauding the amazing sibling relationships within the Down syndrome community. We have met so many wonderful siblings in the last few years, and we can’t wait to read and share about your Super Sibs!

Contest Details:

Contest entries should be submitted via email to, beginning September 25, 2020. All submissions will require a photo with a brief story (3-4 sentences) of how the sibling is supportive of their family member with Down syndrome.

We will accept submissions through October 26th. Randomly selected entries will be used as content for the ds-connex Facebook page beginning 10/1. All submissions will be included in an album to be hosted on the ds-connex Facebook page, which will be posted at the end of October. By entering the contest, you are granting ds-connex permission to edit your submission for grammar and/or length, and use the submitted photo and story in ds-connex social media posts and website. We will only use the first name of siblings in our promotions.  

We will randomly select two winners each Tuesday in October (10/6, 10/13, 10/20, and 10/27), for a total of eight winners, who will each be awarded $25 gift cards. Winners will be announced on the ds-connex Facebook page on each Tuesday afternoon in October. Winners can select to receive an e-gift card from either Target or Amazon.

Team Captains: Share Your 2020 Fundraising Ideas for a Chance to Win a $100 Team Donation! Plus, a Fun Way to Get the Kids Involved!

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

This year, it’s certainly fair to say that most of our beloved routines have been at least somewhat disrupted by the global pandemic. Fundraising for our annual Down syndrome events is no exception. The fundraisers that team captains have hosted in the past may not fit into our local health departments’ guidelines this year, but our Down syndrome associations still need the support of their members. These unique circumstances are requiring team captains to think outside of the usual fundraising box and come up with creative ways to raise much needed funds. With that in mind, we’re excited to kick off our 6th Annual Summer of FUNdraising contest!

We’ve already seen several fun ideas; we featured Tori’s awesome idea for her Columbus Buddy Walk Team, Bryce’s Buddies, on our blog in May. This idea raised almost $3700 for their team, and they did while keeping everyone safe! This isn’t the only creative fundraiser we’ve seen so far this year, and we know there are many more out there!

2020 Summer Fundraising

How are you raising funds for your Down syndrome fundraising team? We want to hear from you!

From Monday, July 27th to Thursday, August 13th, send us a photo from one of your team fundraisers and a short description of your idea for the chance to win one of three $100 donations to your fundraising team from ds-connex. Your idea will inspire other team captains who are in need of ideas for this year, and your team can earn a donation from ds-connex as a result!

One entry will be randomly selected on the following Fridays: July 31st, August 7th and August 14th to win a $100 donation from ds-connex to their Down syndrome fundraising team. The winning entries will be announced each Friday at 2pm Eastern. The earlier you enter, the more chances you have to win! We can’t wait to hear all about your fundraising ideas!

This year’s contest has an extra fun twist!

In addition to your creative fundraising ideas, we also want to hear from your kids: how are they having fun while staying safe at home? We’ve seen how families are coming up with fun new ways to pass the time at home this summer, and we want to showcase those ideas! Kids, send us a photo and description (with Mom or Dad’s help, of course!) of how you are safely enjoying your summer and you could win a $25 e-gift card to Target or Amazon!

Two entries will be randomly selected to win a $25 e-gift card for Target or Amazon (winner’s choice!) on Friday, August 14th, at 2pm Eastern.

But wait - there’s another fun twist this year!

Ds-connex will select an entry to win a Judges’ Award! We will review all of the entries for fundraising ideas and choose our favorite, based on the creativity of the idea described in the entry. The Judges’ Award for the fundraising idea will include a $100 donation to the fundraising team and will be announced on Friday, August 14th, at 2pm Eastern.

How to Enter

Photo submissions can be emailed to ds-connex at Images can be a photo from a fundraiser or a graphic that you used (or plan to use) to promote your fundraiser on social media. For the kids’ category, images can be photos of them enjoying their fun activity. By submitting a photo, you are giving ds-connex permission to edit your submission for grammar/length, and share your submission via the Connexions blog and across multiple social platforms in order to raise awareness and appreciation of your fundraising efforts on behalf of the Down syndrome community. All submissions will be shared on the ds-connex social media outlets with the goal of inspiring the Down syndrome community with creative fundraising ideas for team captains across the country, and to encourage families to have fun this summer safely from home. (Please note: When submitting an entry from a mobile device, please be advised that the “connex” segment of our email address may be autocorrected, preventing your entry from reaching us. If you do not receive a confirmation of your entry, please try sending it again.)


Ds-connex Presents: The 2020 #DownSyndromeDads Contest!

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

In honor of Father’s Day and great dads of kids with disabilities everywhere, ds-connex is excited to announce the 7th Annual #DownSyndromeDads Contest to recognize and celebrate these amazing fathers!

Contest Overview

Nominate the fantastic #DownSyndromeDads in your life by sending a photo and brief (one to three sentences), meaningful message about them to ds-connex. Please send your submissions to

All photos and descriptions will be posted to a 2020 #DownSyndromeDads photo album on the ds-connex Facebook page. All nominators and #DownSyndromeDads are encouraged to promote the contest and ask friends and family members on Facebook to vote for them by liking their photo in the 2020 #DownSyndromeDads album.

The 1st prize winner will receive a $250 donation to their Down syndrome fundraising team along with a $100 Home Depot gift card. The second prize winner will be awarded a $100 team donation along with a $50 Home Depot gift card.

Details For This Year's Contest

The ds-connex team will collect #DownSyndromeDads nominations until midnight EDT on June 14th. The Facebook album will be posted on or after June 16th, at which time voting will begin. We will notify nominators via email when the album is posted and voting begins, and we will conclude voting on Monday, June 22nd at 9:30am EDT, when the winners of the contest will be determined. The winners will be chosen based on the total of likes (or reactions, to include “love,” etc) on the photos in the #DownSyndromeDads photo album on the ds-connex Facebook page during the voting period. The #DownSyndromeDads contest participants must observe Facebook’s policies. Please note that in order for your entry to be included in the voting, we must receive your entry by midnight on June 14th. We will happily include entries submitted after 6/14 in the Facebook album, but they will not be eligible for the prizes. Results of the contest will be announced on our Facebook page on Monday, June 22nd.

Please Note...

We welcome participants in last year’s contest to re-enter with a new photo!

By nominating someone for the #DownSyndromeDads program, you are giving ds-connex permission to edit your submission for grammar and/or length, and to share your submission via the Connexions blog and across multiple social platforms, in order to raise awareness and appreciation of fathers in the Down syndrome community and all they do. The #DownSyndromeDads contest is sponsored by ds-connex.

We look forward to seeing your #DownSyndromeDads entries!

Team Highlight: Bryce’s Buddies, Columbus Buddy Walk®

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Like most elements of our usual lives by now, fundraising for our Down syndrome events may look a bit different this year. Team Captains will need to find creative ways to raise money for their local Down syndrome associations, in order to provide support while observing social distancing. I was impressed by an idea I saw recently, posted on Facebook by Tori Whitley, Team Captain of Bryce’s Buddies for the Columbus Buddy Walk®, and we reached out to Tori to ask her to share the details. She generously agreed, as she is happy to help the Down syndrome community any way she can.


Tori, a third year Team Captain, shared that she came up with this fundraising idea after thinking of ways to raise money due to the changes surrounding us due to COVID-19. “I knew I had to get creative,” she explained. Tori posted this board on her Facebook page, and her friends are encouraged to choose a number on the board, which corresponds with a donation amount (the 1 square = $1, the 100 square = $100).

“Most of our fundraisers have been restaurant nights or other in-person events. That’s when I realized we needed to do something virtual and my friend’s adoption fundraiser came to mind. I decided to add a little twist though. When people donated by committing to a square, they got to choose me or my husband’s face to go on the board. Once the board was full, the person whose face was on the board the most won. We picked something for each other to do as the loser. This really has enticed people to donate, I think.”

Tori’s most recent update on Facebook shows that it is enticing, indeed!


This year, Bryce’s Buddies has a goal of raising $10,000 for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. With this fundraiser, they are well on their way! Tori shared “Not knowing what to expect with our first year and doing absolutely no fundraising, we had over $6,000. Last year we got over $10,000. My goal is to raise as much money as possible, because DSACO has done so much for us since we became part of this wonderful community.”

In addition to this fundraiser, Tori is exploring other options to help her team reach its goal. “I have a friend who has done a Lularoe fundraiser for me. She donates a portion of her sales for an entire month and that’s been pretty successful each year. Last year we did a 50/50 raffle and had a silent auction. We had everything donated for the auction. It was in person but I saw someone do it online once, so I may have to look into that option. Last year that was our biggest fundraiser at almost $2,000.”

No matter what fundraisers her team hosts, it’s important to Tori that she share her “why” behind the efforts. "When family and friends understand why they are giving money it’s easier for them to support,” she explained.

To learn more about Bryce’s Buddies and the 2020 Columbus Buddy Walk®, please visit their Stride fundraising site.

This post is part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams by 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: