Celia’s Story

If 4-year-old Celia had her wish, the world would be filled with friendly people, lively music and lots of hugs. She says “hi” to everyone she sees — waving exuberantly and smiling broadly until they return the greeting.

Celia, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, has celebrated many happy milestones over the past year. In the spring, she participated in her preschool’s “Dancing with the Stars” show.

“It was a song-and-dance number with all the kids on the stage,” explains Jill, Celia’s mom. “Celia went out on stage without a helper. She didn’t sing all the words, but she did all of the dancing, hit all of her marks and did all of the moves. She was so proud of herself!”

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Celia’s recent accomplishment is precious to her family — not only because of what she’s overcome so far in her young life, but because she has grown into a feisty, spirited and good-natured young girl.

As the oldest of three children, Celia enjoys running around the backyard, swimming with her brothers, 2-year-old Lincoln and 1-year-old Teddy, and helping her dad, Kevin, play the guitar. A blue stuffed dinosaur goes almost everywhere with her.

On the last day of school this year, Jill learned about another aspect of her daughter’s personality. “One of her classmate’s parents came up to us and told us how nervous they were when their daughter started at the school earlier in the year,” Jill says. “Celia just ran up to the girl, took her hand as-if she was saying ‘You’re coming with me.’ The parents said it meant so much that Celia took their daughter under her wing.”

In October, Celia will add another milestone to her breakthrough year: She will be a Patient Champion at the 2017 CHOP Buddy Walk. Celia and her family have participated in the CHOP Buddy Walk for the past few years, and this year they are actively recruiting friends and family to help them support the Trisomy 21 Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Join Celia at the CHOP Buddy Walk on Oct. 1 at Villanova University Stadium — and be sure to say “hi!”