Rachel’s A-Plus Week

Sometimes the best way to tell the story is through pictures. I wish my photography were half as good as my friend Sherri Harnisch, but I think you’ll love the story anyhow.  This week we headed to the NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington. It is our annual trek to DC to meet with our Members of Congress and share legislative priorities important to the Down syndrome community. This year was a little different because I work for NDSS now and Rachel had an opportunity to work on those independence skills. I know some of you are thinking, as though she needed that! Since I couldn’t be with the Kansas delegation for all of their visits, they took care of her and State Representative Erin Davis was “in charge” of Rachel. It was a highly successful day on the Hill for Kansas and for Down syndrome. Advocacy is about telling your story and about building relationships. The results of the day will be measured over months and even years.  Rachel was also honored at the Olathe South Academic Awards program for maintaining a grade point of 3.75 or above. She missed the ceremony to be in DC, but they presented her awards on Thurs. I hope you enjoy the pictures of our A-plus week.  Maybe you’ll join us for the 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington!

Pictures of our future. Don't let the sweetness fool you. These little ladies are fierce advocates.
Pictures of our future. Don’t let the sweetness fool you. These little ladies are fierce advocates. Photo credit Sherri Harnisch, Picture Taker.
Working in the NDSS war room
Working in the NDSS war room with her friend Stephanie.

 

With her good friend KS Representative Erin Davis just before Erin spoke at the NDSS State Advocacy Training. She was inspiring and educational. These two are a force!
With her good friend KS Representative Erin Davis just before Erin spoke at the NDSS State Advocacy Training. She was inspiring and educational. These two are a force!
With her new friend, Illinois NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR Gigi
With her new friend, Illinois NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR Gigi

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Rachel loved the luncheon sponsored by the NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board. They talked about voting rights.
Rachel loved the luncheon sponsored by the NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board. They talked about voting rights.
Dancing with friends
Dancing with friends

The dip w Eric BWW16

Off to the Hill she went. There is work to be done.
Off to the Hill she went. There is work to be done.
KS Rep. Erin Davis looks on as Rachel and Senator Roberts (R-KS) discuss the time "I led the Pledge of Allegiance for you, Senator."
KS Rep. Erin Davis looks on as Rachel and Senator Roberts (R-KS) discuss the time “I led the Pledge of Allegiance for you, Senator.  I want you to sponsor ABLE to Work so I can get my pink house.”
Senator Roberts (R-KS) with a great group of Kansas advocates
Senator Roberts (R-KS) with a great group of Kansas advocates
Tweet by Congressman Pompeo (R-KS) following the KS delegation's visit during #BWW2016
Tweet by Congressman Pompeo (R-KS) following the KS delegation’s visit during #BWW2016
A moment with her friend and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) during the NDSS Champion of Change Awards lunch.
A moment with her friend and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) during the NDSS Champion of Change Awards lunch.
Rachel beaming after presenting NDSS Champion of Change to Senator Moran (R-KS). Senator Moran told the group "It is hard to say no to Rachel. Because of her request, I agreed to co-sponsor the ABLE to Work Act! Pictured with NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR from KS Sarah Meitner & son Abe and NDSS President Sara Weir (also a native Kansan!) Senator Moran is also the Senate Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome
Rachel beaming after presenting NDSS Champion of Change to Senator Moran (R-KS). Senator Moran told the group “It is hard to say no to Rachel. Because of her request, I agreed to co-sponsor the ABLE to Work Act! Pictured with NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR from KS Sarah Meitner & son Abe and NDSS President Sara Weir (also a native Kansan!) Senator Moran is also the Senate Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome
Cpngressman Huelskamp (R-KS) & great group of Kansas advocates
Congressman Huelskamp (R-KS) & great group of Kansas advocates
Abe and the Congressman love a little football
Abe and the Congressman love a little football
Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) reviewing Rachel's bio and NDSS "asks". She joined the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome and signed on as a co-sponsor for the Accurate Education for Prenatal Screenings Act.
Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) reviewing Rachel’s bio and NDSS “asks”. She joined the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome and signed on as a co-sponsor for the Accurate Education for Prenatal Screenings Act.
Rachel selling ABLE to Work to her friend and Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) as NDSS President Sara Weir listens.
Rachel selling ABLE to Work to her friend and Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) as NDSS President Sara Weir listens. He also signed on as a co-sponsor for the ABLE to Work Act.
Excited to present her Congressman with his NDSS Champion of Change Award on the Capitol steps. State Rep. Erin Davis, NDSS President Sara Weir, KS Advocate Rebecca McCaulley and mom look on.
Excited to present her Congressman with his NDSS Champion of Change Award on the Capitol steps. State Rep. Erin Davis, NDSS President Sara Weir, KS Advocate Rebecca McCaulley and mom look on.
Fun with a cute boy and her new friend Ann. Look at that dessert!
Fun with a cute boy and her new friend Ann. Look at that dessert!

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So proud of Rachel.
So proud of Rachel. She works extremely hard.
She had to miss the Olathe South Academic Awards program.
She had to miss the Olathe South Academic Awards program.

Rachel told me that one of the best parts of the week was spending time with Erin Davis.  I sent Erin a text and told her and this was her response:

“She’s precious Don’t you wish you could ease new parent’s minds about what life would be like with a child with Down syndrome? I know things aren’t always easy, but boy she’s such an absolute joy not to mention tenacious and downright hilarious.”

I think it was an A+ week in a lot of ways!

 

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