Saturday, January 15, 2011


A few months ago, I was introduced to Enjoying the Small Things through my friend Savannah. I've read Kelle's blog religiously since and simply adore her little girls, Lainey and Nella. Though these girls are special for a million reasons, Nella happens to be special in one other way. Nella has Down Syndrome.

For those of you who haven't known me long, you probably don't understand just how much that means to me. During my last few years at Northern, I gave up every study hall I had to work in the Life Skills class at our High School. I always thought that I would be a Special Education teacher and began interning as a freshman. So each day, I'd rush from study hall to spend 40 minutes or so, wether those forty minutes included making fruit salad, practicing money skills, talking about boys, reading books, or playing board games. Nothing meant more to me than my Joey and my Sam and I wouldn't miss a day with them for anything.

Joey Dominic, Special Olympics 2007
Throughout the course of High School, I served as a a Special Olympics Big Buddy ten times and loved every minute of it. Though I was never much of an athlete, nothing could stop me from running alongside Joey cheering. The sunburn and long days didn't matter. I knew the pledge by heart and I loved the morning stretches.

I'll never forget the day that Sam came over to watch the Lizzie McGuire movie, bake brownies, and then eat brownie sundaes. The best part though was definitely teaching her to play Dance Dance Revolution. I'll never forget my summer spent at Outlook Point with Joey - playing bingo and serving breakfast to the creepiest of old men, and the ladies in their bright red lipstick. Oh, Joey loved their lipstick and the ladies, well, they loved Joey.

It's a part of my life that I miss terribly and I think maybe that's why Nella grabs such a big piece of my heart with every story and every photo of her laughing, smiling, crawling, swiping.

For those of you who are familiar with Down Syndrome, or Enjoying the Small Things, or even just to those of you with a big heart - I'm asking a favor. Just a small one. The size of a cup of coffee, or your favorite magazine.

Nella is turning one this month and her mother has set on a mission to pay it forward by collecting donations for the National Down Syndrome Society. When Kelle first decided to take on this project, she set a goal of $15,000 and voiced her fears that it was too high to reach. Less than a week later, Nella's ONEder Fund has raised over $61,000. Every day I check it multiple times and am always happily surprised with the caring and love that everyone is showing Kelle and her beautiful little girl. The number keeps climbing and climbing. And you can be a part of that too.

In Kelle's words..

"One year ago, on January 22, 2010, we welcomed our second daughter, Nella Cordelia Hampton. The thrill of her slippery little body being placed in our arms was quickly jolted when we were told she came with a little something extra...a 47th chromosome. And like many others who set out on this journey, we struggled through a range of emotions the following weeks. Support came though--through loving friends and family, through education, through falling in love with our daughter who turned out to be the greatest blessing and just what our family needed.

We are learning more every day, and, through Nella, we've discovered a new world of acceptance and opportunity for the many individuals in our world with Down syndrome. 

To celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of this beautiful journey and our enchanting little one, we are asking you to join with us in supporting the NDSS. Please help spread awareness and create more opportunities for the world to understand that we are more alike than different. 

The National Down Syndrome Society works to create a culture that fully accepts and includes the 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome. Your tax-deductible donation will help support the vision of a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life and realize their life aspirations. 

We are grateful for your efforts, and hope you will take great pride in the important difference that the funds you raise will make. On behalf of the entire Down syndrome community, we thank you for your commitment and dedication."

For those of you who can spare even just $5, I encourage you to visit Nella's ONEder Fund and help make the world a more accepting place for beautiful, special little ones like Nella. Even if you cannot help contribute, I encourage you to read Kelle's blog where you will be amazed by the love that this women pours out for her little girls. It's a beautiful story and you can be a part of it. Or if you'd like to become more involved with Down Syndrome in your local community, find a Special Olympics program near you. Or if you happen to be between the ages of 18 and 24, consider giving a week of your summer to Camp Pals which is held yearly at Cabrini College, right here in PA. 

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