1 in 6,141. Those were the odds of us having a baby with Down syndrome. When we got that number, we didn’t bat an eye. A 0.0002% chance. It was the lowest risk we could have. On the day Kennedy was born, we were blindsided to get the news that she had “characteristics of Down syndrome”. Our sweet girl who we had planned for and dreamed for and had, as Type A parents (ok, it’s just me that’s Type A), expectations for was different than what we imagined. Over the last two years though, we have learned that we don’t need to change any of those dreams or expectations. Sure, some may need to be shifted slightly, but not changed.
Over the last two years we have watched Kennedy thrive and grow into her personality. Kennedy is curious and adventurous. She works hard, always seeming to push herself to reach the next milestone. She knows that dancing is the answer to any question. She loves to swim and be in the water. She loves to read (on her terms). She loves hanging upside down – seeing the world from a different angle. She loves people and is super social. She loves playing with her friends and also knows how to play nicely on her own. She could survive on blueberries and yogurt. Her snuggles, sloppy kisses, and giggles can make even the worst day better. She has strong opinions and is not afraid to share them with you. Kennedy radiates joy. She brings so much light and happiness wherever she goes. She truly makes this world a better place. She isn’t her Down syndrome, she is just Kennedy – our amazing, beautiful daughter. She is perfect.
We got involved with the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society (MADSS) immediately after Kennedy’s diagnosis. We realized that we would need to be strong advocates for Kennedy and that we wanted to be a part of a group of parents and families and people with Down syndrome so that we could learn from them, experience with them, and share a sense of community. Joe has served on the Board of Directors since October 2015 and is currently the government relations point person and President Elect. I have been able to help bring Gallery 21 to life, a photo gallery of people with Down syndrome that aimed at bringing awareness to the greater community about what Down syndrome is and, more importantly, showcasing that we are all more alike than different. For more information on what we're up to...and what Kennedy is up to, check out www.jenbrydges.com
Kennedy’s favorite song is “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty. She lights up when she hears it and the words resonate strongly - encouraging having adventures and being a free spirit because “I have seen no other who compares with you.”
Additionally, my favorite flower from my dear friends at Fellow Flowers is the Wildflower. Mel and Tori have literally penned our daughter on a piece of paper: “Free Spirit, rebel soul. Shows up, loves hard. Here to make a difference. Willing to fall, determined to rise. A beacon; an undeniable light radiating through cracks of imperfection. Seeks adventure and meaning, not approval. Grows in the places unexpected…making the world beautiful. Unapologetically, her. She belongs among the wildflowers.”
We welcome you to be a part of Kennedy’s Wildflowers – growing freely, authentically, beautifully and unapologetically. Your participation by walking with us and/or making a donation, will help to create and support a culture of inclusion and acceptance for people with Down syndrome. When you think about Down syndrome, don’t think genetics and disabilities, think of Kennedy and what an awesome tiny human she is and what a difference she makes to those she knows and loves. Most importantly, know that Kennedy and others with Down syndrome are more alike than different.
With love and appreciation,
Joe, Jen and Kennedy