I want to publicly thank everyone who came to the fundraiser, Touchdowns for Down syndrome, we hosted at the home football game Sept. 20. We raised just more than $2,200 for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network and Jack’s Basket. It was so overwhelming and incredible. Thank you.

As we wrap up this October Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I decided to write a letter to myself and share that with you five-and-a-half years after our diagnosis day. My how much I’ve learned about myself.

It’s crazy looking back at how far we’ve come. I’m so lucky to have such a supportive network of friends, family and wonderful community of Redwood Falls.

If you know someone with a new diagnosis, I’d love to get in touch with them, or maybe you could even just share this.

A letter to myself on (Down Syndrome) diagnosis day.

Feb. 10, 2014

Today you heard some hard words confirming a Down syndrome diagnosis to your unborn baby girl. I realize right now you’re not in the best place mentally, as this is not who you thought you were going to be – a “special needs mom” but believe me when I tell you, you’re meant for this.

Here is a list why:

You’re stronger than you know.

You’re outspoken, and she will need you to be her voice for a while.

She has the most incredible big sister to help her develop and learn from.

Your family will love her just as much as they would if she didn’t have an extra chromosome.

Your daughter will teach you to slow down, which, let’s just say it, you need to do.

You are very organized and you’ll need this attribute to keep track of her medical care, county and state paperwork, school IEPs and therapists.

You have a knack for speaking to people, and that will come into play as she gets older to teach people that she (and others with different abilities) are more alike than different.

Your daughter will be a force to reckon with, just like you. She will show people that she can and will do everything just like her typical “46’er” friends.

Your friends and family will learn so much from her and from you as you lead this unexpected journey.

You will meet more amazing people and make such great connections with complete strangers you never would have met otherwise. You’ll need these friends for this journey to learn and grow from each other.

I know you’ll shed tears, but I promise you will see very soon after she’s born that you didn’t need to cry.

Sure, you will have hard days, lots of hard days. All parenting is hard, extra chromosome or not.

She will be a strong little girl.

Enjoy her.

Celebrate her.

You will soon be on your way to many hugs, smiles, love and happiness beyond belief.