Brittany’s Story

I made my entrance into the world on Sunday, March 19, 1989. My Mom and Dad already had their hands full with my brother who was almost three. After a typical pregnancy and delivery, my parents were stunned to learn the news… I was born with Down syndrome.

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 became involved in Special Olympics swimming, gymnastics, and horseback riding. Later on, I was involved in typical dance programs and competed in dance competitions. I was in multiple musical theater productions though Saint Hugh Productions.

It was my years at Walt Whitman High school where I truly left my mark. I went to three proms, and walked in two fashion shows. I even escorted my principal down the runway during my senior year! I won some great awards, too. My photograph of Walt Whitman’s dance studio won the PTA’s Reflection contest, awarding me with special dance classes for myself and two friends. Soon after, I joined Walt Whitman High School’s Dance Ensemble. But, that wasn’t the only award that I won!

In 2007, I received the Conrad G. Hecht Award as the Outstanding Special Education Student of Suffolk County from the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators. I was so proud of myself and so was my family. But, the awards didn’t stop there. In one of my proudest moments ever, I was recognized for all of my accomplishments by the Town of Huntington with a Proclamation!

I graduated from high school in 2007, but continued my education until I was 21. Although I was sad to leave, I was ready for the next chapter. I came full circle, and returned to ACDS to become a founding member of their new Day Habilitation Program, “Opportunities.” I even landed my first real job, at a clothing and jewelry store.

Today, I am as happy as ever. After a few years at “Opportunities,” I moved on. I am now with Consolidated Supports and Services, a program that supports me in my self-determined life. I hold a part-time job, and I even founded Brittany’s Baskets of Hope in 2014. Today, my life is so rich, and so full. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me!

I just want to let everyone know, just because you are born with a disability, it doesn’t mean you can’t do everything you want to do!

13 comments on “Brittany’s Story
  1. fredda stimell says:

    I am so proud of you, Brittany. As proud of you as I am of my own children. Guess what! I think of you as one of my own.
    Your accomplishments are amazing.AND— you have a real special family whom are also amazing.
    I wish you the best going forward every single day and in each and everything you want to do.
    Happy holidays!!
    Fredda Stimell

  2. Jane Ashwell-Carter says:

    Dear Brittany

    I live in the UK. I am a student midwife who is lucky enough to have a beautiful daughter who has Down Syndrome.

    I think your baskets are a wonderful idea, and if possible, I would be very interested to know how I could help/what to provide in a similar thing in the UK.

    My lovely Daisy is just 19 months old and is the youngest, with four brothers who adore her. She has made us all so very happy.

  3. Hannah cervantes says:

    Your are a beautiful woman don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

  4. Anonymous says:

    Your story is fantastic. You go girl.

  5. joanne turver says:

    hi Brittany i think you are really lovely young women doing something in your life helping others families out who has a baby with downs syndrome you are giving them a lovely baskets with items they will need and some extras like your story all about you and how you are coping in the world i have loads of friends some of my friends have downs syndrome and they are coping with life and everyday tasks skills and learning new things as well I am from the UK and my name is Joanne Louise turver and I think you should be awarded medal from our queen as you deserved one to whot you have done for others just like you been brave to think of others famlilies havng babies and its a total shock to them but your life story makes it easy for them to understand the condishions and they will lead a very happy life doing the same things we all do in life skills its nice to know others are there to help them out .And you are very beautiful lady going some were in life and no one is going to stop you and keep up the good work you will give karma to others who lives you have touched sweet angle you go girl iam proud of you . Happy new year to you from me and to your loving so caring family you have

  6. Lorraine Witt says:

    You are truly amazing. I saw your story on News channel 12 in New York. I applaud you for your compassion to give to others so freely. Bless your wonderful heart I hope this news gives other people the feeling of love and hope for our world…thank you …God Bless….Keep up the great work…We are Blessed to have you in our world…

  7. Lorraine Witt says:

    I do crochet and do a lot of charity work…in the future I can crochet a few baby blankets for you organization…feel free to contact me…thank you so much….you bring joy to so many people. Love and Peace to you .

  8. Heather perry says:

    I think you are an amazing women. I can’t wait to see all the things my son accomplishes.

  9. Sharon Komforty says:

    You are truly an inspiration! I am so proud of you!!! You are a beautiful person inside and out and deserve all the good things coming your way. Brittany, I am so happy for all your accomplishments and I want you to know that you rock in my book. All the best to you!!!!!!

  10. Jessica Buckner says:

    Your story is amazing! I can’t wait to see my son grow up and show us how extrodianry he will be!

  11. Teri says:

    Brittany I am so proud and impressed with all you have accomplished! You are special and have been since the first day I met you in eighth grade when I had to do testing with you. You blossomed over the years in high school and I remember your interview while at Project CARE. You were a natural spoke person! Keep making a difference and never stop smiling!

  12. Kathy Ulmer says:

    Brittany, your story is AMAZING. I pray every day for all the DS babies that are in the womb. I pray God will save them from destruction. Every baby should have a chance at life. To be what you are and what you have become. I just happened to pick up the latest Woman’s World and your wonderful story was in it !!!

  13. Andrea Stoeckel says:

    Brittany you go girl!

    I saw you with John on my Instagram feed, and had to track you down. My name is Andrea, and at 61 I am a retired minister in the United Church of Christ. For 50 years I have been advocating and teaching people about DS babies. When I was a kid, I was overweight, the most visible sign of my own disabilities. It was the DS community that accepted me. I also taught swimming to DS and other “special ed” kids. And, I confirmed DS young adults when other ministers wouldn’t. It was the DS kids who worked the hardest.

    When I can, I’ll figure out what I can do to support you much as I’ve got John’s Crazy Sox on my list as well. Keep on going!

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