How We Got Rockin': The Story behind Rock the 21
What do you mean an extra 21st chromosome?
Potential learning challenges and medical conditions? What do I do? Who do I talk to? Will my children be ok? Like many, these were the questions I asked when I first learned that my twin daughters had Down Syndrome.
i had no idea what to do or who to talk to.
At the time, I was offered limited resources and I personally had lack of awareness of what Down Syndrome (DS) was. Of course I knew what DS was, but I had never personally met or interacted with anyone with DS.
When I received the diagnosis, I was bombarded with the potential limitations or medical conditions my daughters may have. I wasn’t told first and foremost that my babies were healthy - and just babies who happened to have an extra 21st chromosome. They would play and go to school. They would walk and run. They would laugh and love. They would be successful. They would encounter the same journey as everyone else, they just may need a different path or more time to get there.
I talked to several doctors and social workers who were all helpful, but I still had the takeaway that something was "wrong" with my daughters. I needed support – a “comrade” who could help me navigate.
And then the support came.
I met my comrade - Tara Stauber - a mom of a beautiful daughter with DS who was only 6 months older than my girls. She invited me over for lunch, having no idea who I was, just that I was in the same "rockin’ club" as her. It was through Tara that I found out I was not alone at all. There were several families in my one-square-mile community that also had children who rocked this extra chromosome.
It was at Thanksgiving in 2014, as I was speaking to my Dad about these wonderful people, that we thought of Rock the 21.
And so we started rockin' As rock the 21!
What a great opportunity we would have to help spread awareness and celebrate our children and individuals with DS, because they ROCK. I reached out to Tara and a new friend, Ana High – also a mother of a handsome boy with DS - and we planned our first social awareness event, a World Down Syndrome day celebration on March 21, 2015.
We built momentum in our community and met Stephanie Dotto, who had recently adopted a daughter with DS. We also integrated our friend Teresa Inauen, a therapist who works with kids with special needs, and we set forth to formally build our local non-profit. And we are now rockin’ as Rock the 21.
rock the 21 was founded to share our stories.
While our children all have the same extra chromosome, our stories are uniquely different, and we believe in their power to help other families.
We will work together to create social awareness and educational opportunities for those who may not understand what DS is. We will provide resources and support to individuals of all ages with DS, as well as their families. And, most importantly, we will celebrate all individuals with DS.
We are grateful to our supporters as we further our mission. Please keep rockin' with us.
- Beth Freeman, President of Rock the 21