Author: Chase Wagner, ds-connex intern
Our motto at ds-connex is “Empowering Down Syndrome Communities”. Through my work with ds-connex, I have found that these four words are the pinnacle of our organization’s efforts and motives, but they fall short in capturing the passion and personal nature behind what we do and why we do it.
As an intern at ds-connex, I have had the pleasure of assisting dozens of Down syndrome advocacy and awareness groups nationwide in raising funds for their efforts by customizing event websites in our unique Stride platform. Knowing that each site I update and each email I send is working to improve and expand the capabilities of these organizations through increased funding is gratifying, but one of my most gratifying experiences happened just a few weeks ago.
Recently, I had the pleasure of planning, organizing, and finally executing a fundraiser called “Andrew’s Root Beer Float Stand” in our office building. Named after the fifth-grade son of my co-worker, Jen, who helped make, deliver, and excitedly add whipped cream and cherries to the floats, this event raised over $400 in just two hours for Team Alex at the 2019 Columbus Buddy Walk, benefiting the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. I had an awesome time working with Andrew, a co-captain of Team Alex, and the ds-connex team including Jen, Dana, Amanda, Jena, and Emily throughout the process. It was great to see all the work we put in finally pay-off in a successful event, but it was even better knowing the larger goal we were working toward during those two hours on June 19th.
Alex, whom the team is named after, is the fifteen-year-old son of Jen and Andrew’s older brother. Alex is a rising high school freshman, a soccer player, a Buckeye fan, a track runner, a chicken fry lover, a basketball player, a dog lover, and my favorite, a game show fanatic. Alex just so happens to also have Down syndrome, but that is the least of what defines the amazing young adult that he is. It is for this reason that Team Alex exists and why the team's many fundraising efforts, including the root beer float stand, are so important. Team Alex raises funds and advocates for inclusion so that infants, toddlers, teenagers, and adults like Alex are supported and recognized for the amazing individuals they are rather than the extra 21st chromosome they possess.
I am glad to know Alex and his family, and I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given at ds-connex to be passionate and personal in the work we do to empower Down syndrome communities. Our motto might be just four words, but the passionate and personal nature by which we follow that motto makes all the difference.
Please help us build upon our efforts at “Andrew’s Root Beer Float Stand” by paying a visit to Alex’s Team Page. There you can find some awesome pictures of Alex and his family and can even donate to his team. With your help, we can ensure individuals like Alex have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Thank you to all those in the Community Corporate Center who generously supported us on June 19th and those who continue to support Team Alex through online donations. Lastly, thank you especially to Emily Leatherman for her amazing help with this event and to the entire ds-connex team for their tireless and inspirational work in passionately and personally empowering Down syndrome communities.