Dade Brady is a happy, smiley 3-year-old boy. His parents, Heather and Dustin Brady, had no idea the journey that would unfold for them and their son the day he was born.
Dade Brady is a happy, smiley 3-year-old boy. His parents, Heather and Dustin Brady, had no idea the journey that would unfold for them and their son the day he was born. After all, it wasn’t until he was born that his parents discovered his Down syndrome diagnosis.
Despite genetic testing, many ultrasounds and even appointments with a pediatric cardiologist, doctors didn’t detect any signs of Down syndrome. Heather said when she had the genetic testing done, they found the T21 (Trisomy 21) that determines if a baby has the condition, but there were no heart problems detected and still aren’t to this day, which is common for those with Down syndrome.
Heather said she believes it all worked out so she wouldn’t feel the need to have control or fear over the future. Now, Heather, Dustin and Dade are the ambassador family for the Family Connection SC Buddy Walk set for Nov. 6 at the Saluda Shoals Park athletic fields.
Being the ambassador family wasn’t something they went chasing after. The family had been a part of the Buddy Walk for a couple of years as it went virtual due to the pandemic. This is the first year back in person for the national network of walks started in 1955 to boost Down syndrome awareness.
“It helps to get the story out and it’s an opportunity to share things learned from being a Down syndrome family,” Heather said
“Sometimes it is overwhelming,” she admitted, “but if there’s a family struggling it is motivating to hear others’ hope and it can help change their state of mind.”
Heather believes in advocating for Family Connection SC because there are so many people, especially special needs families, who don’t know about the nonprofit organization and the services they provide.
Family Connection’s mission is to make connections and raise awareness for everyone with a special need, said Jacki Garbinsky, the group’s marketing and events manager.
“We are a listening ear needed for those on the journey,” she said.
The local Buddy Walk is just one of the events offered by the organization. It’s an inclusive celebration for all people with Down syndrome and their families and friends.
“We are excited to host Buddy Walk 2022 as an in-person celebration for families, friends, sponsors and supporters to come together in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness and to help support the mission of Family Connection,” said Amy Holbert, the nonprofit’s CEO. “Family Connection continues to serve more than 4,000 families each year who have a child with a disability or chronic health condition. Buddy Walk is a wonderful opportunity to bring people together to support our goals of promoting inclusion, equity, and community.”
More than 50 teams have registered for this year’s Columbia walk, Garbinsky said.
One of the purposes of the walk is to raise funds for the free services provided to families who have a child with any sort of special need.
“We want to serve [families’] needs when they need it which is why fundraising is so important,” Garbinsky said.
Heather praised the impact Family Connection has on the families it works with.
“This is an organization that gives hope to families. They can plug in hope. There are so many resources for people and I want to spread the word,” she said. “The only negative was that I had to figure it out by myself before Family Connection came along.”
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