Connexions Blog

"Building stronger communities by sharing inspiration, advice, and best practices that work".



Win Awareness Items to Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day!

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

World Down Syndrome Day 2020 is quickly approaching, and we can’t wait to begin the celebration! In fact, we’re so excited that we don’t want just one day of recognition, so we’re extending the party to 21 days!!

This year, ds-connex wants to know how you recognize World Down Syndrome Day! Send us the details of your celebrations, along with a photo, so we can share your fabulous ideas. Your plans just might inspire another family to begin a new tradition in their school, workplace, or neighborhood - this is how we build and strengthen our community!

We will feature your ideas across our social media channels, beginning 3/1. On 3/20, all of the ideas will be compiled into an Instagram story (be sure to follow us - @dsconnex!), where they will live as a highlight on our Instagram. In addition to the social media features, you will also be eligible to win a prize package (containing items to share and spread awareness in your community) or a donation to your Down syndrome fundraising team. Prizes will be randomly drawn on March 4th, and winners will be notified by email and announced on our social media.

Don’t delay - send us your entries today, and let’s get this party started!

Contest Details:

Starting today, send your entries to contests@ds-connex.org. Entries must include a description of how your family observes World Down Syndrome Day, along with a photo. We must receive your entries by Friday, February 28 to be eligible for prizes. Three prizes will be awarded, and winners will be randomly selected on March 4th, 2020. Prize packs will include awareness items to share at school, church, or daycare; winners will have an opportunity to provide input on the items in the collection. If a team donation is selected, it will be in the amount of $100 and will be awarded when the team’s online fundraising site opens. By submitting content for the World Down Syndrome Day campaign, you are granting ds-connex permission to edit your submission for grammar and/or length, and use the submitted photo and story in ds-connex social media posts and website.


It's A Perfect Time to Thank Your Team Supporters

Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us, and many of us have turned our thoughts to identifying the things in our lives for which we’re most grateful. While practicing gratitude should be high on our list of priorities all year long, it’s especially prominent in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

Team Captains, it’s important to thank the team members and donors who were part of your fundraising and awareness efforts in 2019.

Team Alex Thank You

There are so many reasons to be thankful for those who participated with your team, in one way or another, this year. They may have assisted with fundraisers, walked with your team, secured a sponsorship, volunteered at the event, or shared your social media posts. Each of these actions can generate a sizable impact for not only your team, but also your Down syndrome organization.

No matter how they showed their support, your team members and donors showed up for your loved one with Down syndrome, and they should be properly recognized.

There are many ways to thank your team members and donors, but the most important element is sincerely expressing your appreciation. You could send a photo with a handwritten note, write a thoughtful email, or create a Facebook post (remembering that not everyone uses social media, it’s best to do this in addition to the notes!). Letting them know the ways their support with benefit the Down syndrome community is also important!

Events using our Stride fundraising platform offer their team captains an advantage in that their team and donor rosters are available on their event site, and these rosters include mailing and email addresses, making it very easy to send out a thank you note. Our free app, Team Snapshot, even offers the option of sending an email right from your mobile device! With these resources, acknowledging the support of family, friends, and coworkers can be quick and easy.

Ds-connex partner GRADSA encourages their team captains to stay in touch with their teams’ supporters all year, sending updates and photos of their loved ones with Down syndrome. Posting updates to social media accounts dedicated to your team is another great way to stay engaged with your supporters. Building a strong connection is important in securing support for your future fundraising and awareness endeavors. These efforts will also serve as a way to keep your supporters informed on all the amazing accomplishments your loved one with Down syndrome achieves throughout the year!

No matter how you choose to recognize those who contributed to your fundraising and awareness initiatives in 2019, it’s an important task to complete before we turn our sights to 2020.


Meet the Super Sibs from our 4th Annual Campaign!

Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

In celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we were honored to receive 144 entries for our 4th Annual Super Sibs campaign. These siblings ranged in age from less than a year old to adults, and we were once again reminded of the wonderful impact siblings have in the Down syndrome community.

We learned about fundraisers and awareness initiatives spearheaded by these sibs, we gushed over the sweet photos, and we smiled at the comments mentioning that as awesome as they may be, these siblings still engage in the typical bickering that occurs between many brothers and sisters.

Super Sibs Zac and Sean

While every single entry was remarkable and heartwarming, one particular submission truly stood out. Paula Hannibal from Houston sent us this about her sons, Sean and Zach. Through her entry, we are granted a glimpse into the brothers’ relationship. First, we learned about Sean’s feelings about his older brother:

“My name is Sean. I am 17 years old and I am a junior at Bellaire High School. My brother is Zachary Davis. He is 25 years old and he is a professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs organization. My brother supports and encourages me the way most siblings do one another. He teases me. He plays games with me. He taught me how to use a razor and how to tie my shoes. He wrestles with me. He’s usually patient with me. He fights with me and corrects me when I’m wrong. He reads to me, sings and dances with me. He taught me how to play video games and how to use new apps on my I-phone. He calls me long-distance and always answers when I call him. He asks about school and about my grades. He taught me geography and all about football and baseball. He talks to me and lets me talk to him (about anything). He lets me hang out with him and his friends and spends time with me. He loves me just the way I am.”

Next, we heard from Zach on what it’s like to have a sibling with Down syndrome:

“It’s everything. There are amazing times and there are tough times, just like in every other relationship. The highs and lows will be specific to your situation. Sean and I love to watch sports or Family Feud together. We love messing with each other in the grocery store until Mom gets annoyed and tells us to stop. For me, it’s a typical brother-brother relationship. It’s all I know.”

Zach also shared what he would say to someone whose sibling has Down syndrome:

“After hearing about what Down syndrome is or what effects it can have on someone, you may walk away feeling like everything about it is negative. I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely a purpose that is put on your brother or sister’s life. They will undeniably make an impact on others; it may just be done a little differently than what you’ve seen before. Isn’t that how God works?! This can be an emotional experience and your feelings are valid; just know that you are not alone in this. There are people very similar to you that are walking the same walk. Feel free to reach out and talk about how you’re feeling. Your brother/sister will need your help but don’t put limitations on him/her as he/she will grow just like we do.”

This is such a fantastic example of the many beautiful sibling relationships in the Down syndrome community! Please visit our Facebook page to learn about all of our awesome 2019 Super Sibs.


Ds-connex Presents: The Fourth Annual Super Sibs Contest

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

This October, in observance of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we are excited to once again recognize the Super Sibs of our loved ones with Down syndrome! Siblings tend to be very aware of the impact of having a brother or sister with extra needs, and we often hear amazing stories about how they love, encourage, and embrace both the highs and lows of their relationships with their siblings with Down syndrome. We want to take the opportunity to highlight these examples because we believe that children are the key to the future of an inclusive world. Furthermore, we know that these Super Sibs are key players in leading this movement.

Please join us in applauding the amazing sibling relationships within the Down syndrome community. We have met so many wonderful siblings in the last few years, and we can’t wait to read and share about your Super Sibs!



Contest Details:

Contest entries should be submitted via email to contests@ds-connex.org, beginning 9/23/19. All submissions will require a photo with a brief story (3-4 sentences) of how the sibling is supportive of their family member with Down syndrome

We will accept submissions through the end of October. Randomly selected entries will be used as content for the ds-connex Facebook page beginning 10/1. All submissions will be included in an album to be hosted on the ds-connex Facebook page, which will be posted at the end of October. By entering into the contest, you are granting ds-connex permission to edit your submission for grammar and/or length, and use the submitted photo and story in ds-connex social media posts and website. We will only use the first name of siblings in our promotions.

We will randomly select two winners on Tuesdays in October (10/8, 10/15, 10/12 and 10/29), for a total of 8 winners, who will each be awarded $25 gift cards. Winners will be announced on the ds-connex Facebook page on each Tuesday afternoon in October. Winners can select to receive gift cards from the following: Amazon (e-gift card), Target, or Barnes & Noble.