How We Got Rockin': The Story Behind Rock the 21
What do you mean an extra 21st chromosome?
Potential learning and medical challenges? Will my children be ok? What do I do? Who do I talk to? Like many, these were questions I asked when I learned my twin daughters had Down syndrome (DS).
i had no idea what to do or who to talk to.
At the time, we were offered limited resources and I personally had lack of awareness of what 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 and medical conditions that my daughters may encounter. I wasn’t first and foremost told 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, it just may take more time or a different path to get there.
I talked to several professionals who were insightful and helpful, but I still had the takeaway that something was wrong with my daughters. I needed support.
And then the support came.
I met Tara Stauber, a mom of a beautiful daughter with DS who was only 6 months older than my girls. She invited me to 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 during a conversation with my dad at Thanksgiving 2014 that we thought of Rock the 21.
And so we started rockin'!
What a great opportunity to help spread awareness and celebrate our children and individuals with DS, because they ROCK. I reached out to Tara and Ana High – also a mother of a boy with DS - and we planned our first social awareness event, a World Down Syndrome Day celebration on March 21, 2015.
Over the next year, we built momentum in our community and met Stephanie Dotto, who had recently adopted a daughter with DS. We formally established a non-profit organization and now we are 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 others.
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.
- Elizabeth Freeman
President, Rock the 21