Give Thanks for these Down Syndrome Super Stars!

The month of October brought many things – Down Syndrome Awareness Month, our 3rd Annual Talent Show, day after day of adorable picture, and nominations for our Down Syndrome Super Stars. Super Stars are individuals that have been recognized for their dedication, passion and kindness in working with individuals with Down syndrome. These are people that go above and beyond to help the DSAGSL make our vision a reality. Below are nominations for four amazing individuals in our community. As the holiday season approaches, let’s take a moment to give thanks that we have great people like this in our world!

Jaylin Cruz – Big Sister with an Even Bigger Heart
“Hi. My name is Lesly. I have two beautiful kids. My first child, my daughter Jaylin Cruz, and my son with Down syndrome, Miguel Angel Cruz. I would like to nominate my daughter for helping someone with Down syndrome – her brother. She has always been a big part of his life. She has always watched the struggles he has, but she always pushes him to do anything he wants. I am so blessed to have my kids, but I thank God for giving me my daughter because I have learned from her as well.” – 
Lesly Calderon

Kayla Fritz – A Very Cool Cousin
“I would love to tell you about my niece Kayla Fritz, but first let me tell you about our son Ben. Our youngest child, Ben, was born with Down syndrome. He is healthy and strong and doing well in school and at home. But one area where Ben is missing out is friends.  Ben has only been to 2-3 birthday parties in his whole life. He rarely gets invited to play with a friend and has never once been invited to play with the kids on the block. My niece, Kayla, has always been special to Ben. She goes out of her way to talk to Ben and include him despite the fact that she is 7 years older than him. As soon as Kayla was able to drive, she started inviting him to go out for ice cream.  She is a senior in high school so I am I sure that she has more fun things to do with her free time, but she makes a point of connecting with Ben. That is so special to Ben and to us, his parents.” – Anne Fritz

Nicole Myers – Making School a Better Place for All Kids
“I met Nicole Myers over three years ago at my son Josh’s IEP transition meeting for kindergarten. She listened to my concerns and my hopes for a bright future for my son. She knew that two of my biggest questions were  “How will Josh be successful in school? How can I help him be successful?” I was nervous being in a district that was not part of the Special School District and I had many other concerns. I know kids with Down syndrome can learn and I also knew my son is very capable. I knew about the specialist program through the DSAGSL and passed the information onto Nicole. For the past 3 years she has made sure that Northwest is involved in this program. I had conversations with staff at the DSAGSL on several occasions about taking this training into the classroom and giving support and hands on help to make inclusion work in the general education classroom. Nicole was enthusiastic about starting this pilot program in the Northwest R-I district and helped us get it started there. I feel that without Nicole Myers help this would not have been possible to get off the ground. She was instrumental in getting it approved through the district and has been very supportive in every aspect. Their have been many times that I have had a question or an issue come up and I knew I could call or text her and she would get in touch with me as soon as possible. She is a wonderful advocate for all students with special needs and the DSAGSL is fortunate to have her helping with this program.” – Mary Ellen Ritchey


Cori and ChrisAnne – Special Friends for Always
“Hello I wanted to share about a Special Friend of mine. Her name is Cori Passarelli. She is in 8th grade at North Rockford Middle School. In Rockford Michigan. Cori is such a blessing to anyone that meets her. Her smile and kind words are what gets me through some of my days as I run special programs at her school. She is involved in Gymnastics and cheerleading. She encourages and is involved in lives of her peers. Thank you for letting me praise her and let others know how her Down syndrome is apart of her but it does not define her.” – ChrisAnne Lilly