When you make a gift to the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, you help to fund fraternal support and resources for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. In the past two years, DSAW has expanded into new areas of the state, providing support and services for families who previously had none.
When Miriam, whose daughter Laurel has Down syndrome, moved to Wausau, she found herself "missing my fraternal support group in Indiana. It wasn't easy to connect with, or even find, other families with a loved one with DS. I knew we needed a network in the central part of the state."
Miriam approached DSAW's state office in late 2016 to see how she could get things started in her community. State staff assisted her in planning events like a playgroup and lunch for families, a Mom's Coffee Date, and a World Down Syndrome Day event in 2017. In just a few months, DSAW went from having nothing in Central Wisconsin, to hosting events almost every month.
Miriam continued to be instrumental in DSAW's growth: "Hearing families comment on how nice it was to have opportunities for connecting was deeply gratifying. We kept adding monthly events along with regular coffee times and the group continued to spark interest and growth." By mid-2017, "We had families driving an hour for our gatherings. We began offering social interactions in other cities too (Stevens Point, Marshfield, Antigo)." From Miriam's initial spark and help from other local leaders, the DSAW-Central WI chapter was born.
In early 2018, planning began for the first DSAW-Central WI Awareness Walk that would allow DSAW to raise even more awareness in Wausau and surrounding communities and to fundraise for future programs and events. People from across Central WI helped to plan the Walk, which took place on September 29, 2018.
Everyone's favorite part of the day was the 21 Showcase! Individuals with Down syndrome got to walk the red carpet in front of their friends and family. Miriam recalls that "Hearing a little snippet of what each person (baby to adult) enjoys about their valuable and precious life and then seeing the contagious smiles brought on the tears! With about 400 people in attendance, we celebrated the precious gifts in our lives and appreciated the support we are blessed to have here in Central Wisconsin."
Two short years ago, DSAW had nothing available in Central Wisconsin. Now we offer regular events in Wausau, Stevens Point, and Antigo, we hosted our first Awareness Walk in the area, and we're planning some incredible programs for 2019! All it took was one mom to stand up and say that she wanted to connect with other families. If you're unsure what's available in your area, click here to find support near you. If DSAW does not yet provide coverage in your area, contact Rachel to learn more about how to bring events and services to your families!
When you support DSAW, you bring our resources and our incredible community to families who need us. You facilitate our expansion into areas of the state where families who have a loved one with Down syndrome have nowhere else to go. Will you think of DSAW in your year-end giving?