What if the choices you made as a parent had a domino effect? What if, for every success you helped your child achieve, you could know you had paved the way for future generations of children? What if all this were true? Guess what? It is.

Some days, I just want to stay in bed. You know those days, when your to-do list is so long, you've started writing on the sticky side of the Post-It.

Some days, I feel like it's me against my son's tiny extra chromosome. Not always. But some days.

And then there are days like today.

Today, I remembered why it's important for me to do as much as I can for my children. I realized that when Team Wallace succeeds, future parents' children may have a better shot at success.

Meet Bridget and Jack

Bridget's son, Jack, has Down syndrome (just like Charlie). In 1996, she broke ground when she gave a presentation to his kindergarten class on what Down syndrome is, what it means and, oh by the way, no, dear sweet child who looks frightened of Jack, Down syndrome is not contagious.

Did her presentation make a difference? What if she had listened to the principal, who advised that kids that age aren't smart enough to notice differences, so she should just let it go?

If she had walked away, my life might be so different.

If one parent walks away, how many others must walk farther?

If Bridget had walked away and retreated to her kitchen table or anywhere but in front of those 5-year-olds, Jack may never have had the opportunities he's had or the friendships he's developed.

If Bridget had given up, her experiences could not have influenced the creation of the most beautiful 13-minute film called, Just Like You. The Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City and filmmaker Jen Greenstreet partnered to release the film, Just Like You – Down Syndrome, on October 22, 2012.

The film introduces six teens, three of whom have Down syndrome. The teens are friends. Sure, they recognize differences in each other, and they embrace differences and commonalities.

Did their acceptance happen organically? Would it have happened if Bridget had walked away?

Maybe.

Jack's success may mean Charlie's success

Today, Jack is 21 and attends a major Midwestern university, focusing on independent apartment living.

Do I see this for my Charlie? Only in my dreams, every night! Only every time I see a tow-headed teenager, oblivious to his gleaming hair and the hope sparking in my chest.

Bridget never gave up. She spoke, she listened, she attended, she backed off when appropriate and moved closer when needed. In other words, she followed her maternal instinct to do whatever it took to help her son be accepted and supported.


Bridget never gave up. She spoke, she listened, she attended, she backed off when appropriate and moved closer when needed. In other words, she followed her maternal instinct to do whatever it took to help her son be accepted and supported.

Today, Jack has a list of awards behind his name. For example, he received an Outstanding First Year Student award at a school that welcomes thousands of new students each year.

Would that have happened if Bridget had walked away from those eager, impressionable kindergarteners?

Would there have been another Bridget — and another Jack — to inspire the creation of Just Like You?

Maybe. But as a mom, do I want to take that risk?

So, on days when my to-do list ends with an ellipsis, my deadlines hover like vultures and my energy has sapped into my shoes, I remind myself that whatever I can do for Charlie and Mary Emma is progress for the next generation of Charlies, Mary Emmas... and Jacks.

Thank you, Bridget.

Read more about Down syndrome

Nonprofit film turns camera on teens with Down syndrome
Study seeks prenatal experiences with Down syndrome
Moms share favorite books on Down syndrome

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Maureen Wallace February 13, 2013
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Ahhh, such thoughtful and inspiring comments! THANK YOU! Thank you for becoming an advocate for Charlie and others with Down syndrome by supporting this!
Maria Mora February 13, 2013
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Thank you so much for sharing this!
Galit Breen February 13, 2013
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This is such a powerful, inspiring post Maureen. And I love the concept - domino effect, indeed.
Sherri Kuhn February 12, 2013
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Wow, I loved this...I work with elementary school kids and I know what a difference this kind of outreach makes. Why not give these kids the chance to learn about people who are different than they are? It helps us all.