BRITTANY'S STORY

Founder & Visionary in Chief

"I believe people with Down syndrome can do anything—really, really anything!"

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When I was born over 30 years ago, the doctors didn’t expect much of me. The moment they held me up to my mom after I was delivered, she knew something was different. That’s when I was diagnosed with Down syndrome—and all the “she’ll never be able to do…” advice came after. 

But the doctor’s words didn’t stop me! Because while the doctors saw a diagnosis, my parents just saw their little girl who they were going to raise just like my older brother, Justin.

Acting on the suggestion of a social worker at the hospital, my parents contacted the Association for Children with Down Syndrome, now known as ACDS, which specializes in the education of children with disabilities like mine. Six weeks later, Mom and I arrived to participate in the first “Infant Class” at ACDS. We thrived. I was even the first baby in my class to learn to walk, at just nine months old!

Walking came quickly, but talking was harder for me, so I learned American Sign Language. My favorite signs were “cookie” and “eat.” Mom and I started traveling to local elementary schools as Ambassadors for ACDS, where I got to show-off and teach others what a child with Down syndrome was capable of.

I started kindergarten in 1993, where four other children and I piloted the first inclusion class in the South Huntington School District. Today, integrated classes are an educational right but, for our district, we were the first! I loved being in classes with my typical peers. I stayed with them until seventh grade, when the academic demands became too challenging. I started taking smaller classes where I fine-tuned my skills.

When I was little, my family took me everywhere. From vacations to amusement parks to pumpkin picking to chopping our own Christmas tree. You name it, we did it together.

Over the years, I tumbled in gymnastics, rode on horseback, and swam through the pool for the Special Olympics. In high school, I had a great time! I became a member of the school’s typical dance ensemble and walked the runway in my school’s fashion show twice (once on the arm of my principal!). I went to three proms. And I graduated high school.

These days (as you know!) I run my own nonprofit because I want to give hope to moms and dads of new babies with Down syndrome. Brittany’s Baskets of Hope was my idea. I am the Founder and Visionary In Chief! I wanted to start this nonprofit because it beats in my heart; I feel it. I want to bring hope and joy to your kids.

One of my favorite things to do as Founder of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope is to visit local babies in person. I love to hold them. It makes me feel happy to hold them and look into their eyes. I hope I’m a role model for them: your baby can grow up and live a great life, too! 

 

Some of the things I love are cheetah print and snakeskin (I’m into fashion!), Harry Potter (I’m Slyterhin House and a lot of my bedroom is Slytherin-themed), and spending time with friends. I like to sing carpool karaoke with my friends (“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman is my favorite song). My friends and I get drinks and go out to eat. We go to the movies and bowling. I love to cook with my friends, too. My favorite things to make are acaí bowls, zucchini muffins, and homemade pizza. 

In 2019, after making my way through a selection committee and a national voting campaign, I was named the L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth National Honoree at a star-studded gala in New York City! L'Oreal then flew me out to Los Angeles to film a video promo with Viola Davis. I love Hollywood and it was a highlight of my life so far!

Today, my life is so rich and so full. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me!