March 21 was World Down Syndrome Day.
I’ve forever admired the love my friend LeAnne for the love she has for her two siblings; Lori and Billy. Each have Down Syndrome. LeAnne calls them her “life mentors” who she has been lucky enough to grow up with.
In honor of World Dawn’s Syndrome Day, LeAnne posted on social media one of the heart touching moments she had shared with Lori.
With her permission, I am going to bring a condensed version of her message to this week’s column.
Shortly after their mother had passed, Lori asked to speak to LeAnne privately.
LeAnne related that she knew they were about to have a tearful conversation but she didn’t know what was about to come out of left field.
She wasn’t aware that Lori even had a concept of what Down Syndrome was but she was asking LeAnne a question that had been bothering very much.
“Is this Down Syndrome thing (pointing to her head) that we have contagious?” she asked. “Can anyone catch it from us?”
“No Sis, you two were born with it and we were very lucky to have you in our lives,” said LeAnne.
Then Lori put her hand to her heart and said; “Thank God!”
“I don’t want Dusty or Lindsey (LeAnne’s children) or anyone to catch it,” said Lori.
LeAnne wrote that she still sobs and has an ugly cry when she thinks of how this must have been bothering Lori for years.
“I also cry when I think of people who knowingly or purposely make fun of, or belittle our beloved ones with Down or any disability,” LeAnne wrote.
Lori was born at a time when many, many families chose to institutionalize family members born with Down Syndrome.
“Lori and Billy were lucky enough to be born to our parent’s,” wrote LeAnne.
She said her mom, once getting over the shock of having a child with Down and the stigma that came with it, she went to work seeking help and locking arms with many others in the community who saw a vision.
They created a place; The School of Promise which still operates today with the love and support of the communities in Southwestern North Dakota.
“It is a place that has touched the lives of so many families who are lucky enough to have “angels on earth” placed in their arms and in their homes,” shared LeAnne.
The school was in place seven years after Lori was born when they welcomed Billy.
“Sissy, you are not contagious other than that our love for both and all of you is mighty contagious,” wrote LeAnne.
LeAnne says that it spreads like wildfire once you meet them.
She thanks Lori and Billy who were born with that extra chromosome number 21. “You are truly the rock stars in life!”
LeAnne is blessed indeed by these two wonderful characters God has placed with her. I often chuckle as she posts the latest Lori and Billy adventure. Bottom line though is that it is a lifetime adventure of love between three pretty special siblings.
We can learn many lessons from Lori and Billy and others who have been given the gift of Down Syndrome.
Life is good today. ■
— Contact Kathy Craigo-Harteis at email@example.com or PO Box 406, Nice Ca 95454.