One Sunday morning when Stephanie was 3 years old, her mother, Monica, found her sitting in the middle of the living room floor, surrounded by doughnuts. At that moment, Monica knew that everything was going to be OK.
“Stephanie’s problem-solving abilities kicked in big-time,” says Monica, smiling as she remembers the obstacles her daughter had overcome to get to those doughnuts: Stephanie had climbed over the safety gate at the door of her bedroom, made her way downstairs, and pulled the tablecloth just hard enough to bring the box of doughnuts within reach. Then she took a bite out of every single one.
“I knew then that she would be OK for life,” says Monica, “because she can think for herself.”
Now 24, Stephanie has a degree from Rowan College’s Adult Center for Transition, and is looking for a job that will make the most of her organizational and baking skills. She loves riding her bike, doing word puzzles, and going to the mall with her younger sister, Tori. And though she’s dealt with some health challenges over the years, she’s also found plenty of opportunities for fun.
“She makes the best of every situation,” says Monica. “There’s always a bright side to her story.”
Stephanie’s parents are encouraging her to be more independent, and being a Patient Champion for the 2017 CHOP Buddy Walk – the single largest fundraiser to support research and care for children and adults with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – is an important milestone for her.
“She’s old enough now to take a more active role,” Monica says. “It’s a great opportunity.”