21,276. This is the number of reaches in this first week of launching Project: Just Like You. Through your shares, likes, and comments of each child’s story, we have reached over 21,276 people this week alone. Project: Just Like You is on the path of reaching so many more people! Thank you for making this launch an incredible one! This is just the beginning!
Please continue to send in your stories. These are stories of hope, stories changing hearts and minds of our special needs children. It is showing what is at the core of these beautiful kids! Thank you for your continued support.
If you haven’t yet, please share Project: Just Like You with your friends, families, support groups. Let’s make sure every family with a special needs child knows about Project: Just Like You. Encourage sharing each and every story. They can sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Let’s change the world. One story at a time.
Captain River loves going for a boat ride with her family. They fish, crab, and swim together around their home in the northern Chesapeake. #JustLikeYou
River loves an audience. She participated in the Special Olympics Track & Field program this past spring. On your marks, get set, SMILE! As soon as the crowd began to cheer, River filled with delight. #JustLikeYou
River’s life as an only child ended when she was three and a half. Together they do art, pretend play, make messes, wrestle, typical sister stuff. #JustLikeYou
Here’s River on one of the bouncy slides from this year’s Buddy Walk with the Delaware Down Syndrome Association. The DSA provided support starting when she was a new baby and still today. Through them we’ve met life long friends, found up to date information, and were granted so much encouragement and real life wisdom from parents who had be there. #JustLikeYou
Eating frozen yogurt place is one of River’s favorite special activities. #JustLikeYou
River loves being a helper, especially in the kitchen. Here she is making her dad’s lunch! #JustLikeYou
Recently, River traveled to New York City to see herself on the Jumbotron in Times Square. The National Down Syndrome Society presented a video of faces from all over the country and River’s picture was one of them! Later that day she celebrated at the NYC Buddy Walk. River explored the city streets with enthusiasm, checking out shops and people. She visited Top of the Rock and saw the whole city from the 70th floor! This is a trip she won’t soon forget. #JustLikeYou
River was a little shy about sitting on Santa’s lap, but she was very comfortable eating cookies and pointing out her favorite pictures in a Disney book with him. #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present, River! And this is her story.
Meet River, who she just turned 6 years old. River was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. From her rockstar mom, Jenny, “We didn’t know she had it until after she was born. Down syndrome is Trisomy 21 – a condition where instead of a pair of chromosomes, she has three copies of the 21st chromosome.
Down syndrome means River will have intellectual and physical disabilities. These will likely include developmental delays, a slower learning pace, impaired gross and fine motor skills, speech delays, and amplified health issues such as celiac disease, eye or hearing impairment, hypotonia, or thyroid issues. It’s important to know two things though: 1) No two people with Down syndrome are alike! Each person is different and has varying degrees of any condition, just like the typical population. And, 2) River and other people with Down syndrome can learn, can have excellent health, and can excel at any given thing life offers!
River enjoys being with her family and friends doing all sorts of things. At home she often pretends to cook and serve food in the kitchen. She is a great helper to her parents – she loves being an assistant for meal prep, laundry, and even cleaning believe it or not! River lives along the Chesapeake with her family and she takes adventurous walks around the neighborhood and community beach. River swims in the bay and plays in the sand, and she loves going for a boat ride. She enjoys pointing out and doing the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for the animals and other things that she sees. River has a speech delay but she tries to the best of her ability, signs, and uses and iPad to help herself communicate.
River shows us a beauty in her simplicity yet amazes us with her complexity. She is full of curiosity, humor, and kindness. I know her younger sister gets on her nerves from time to time (as sisters do), but River hands her a toy and shares her M&M’s regardless. She cracks us all up with her physical comedy and imitations of things she sees in movies. We call her “The Little Actress.” River’s fearless sense of adventure is probably her best quality. Her bravery to explore and her strength to keep going is both astounding and inspiring.
River totally surprises us by intuiting how to help. She knows when I am sad and picks up my face with her little hands to kiss it all over. She does this till we both laugh and hug. She is full of love. Her teachers tell us things she does in the classroom to help out too. Some of the stories are so funny. River is fully included in her class where she also receives speech, physical and occupational therapies. She rides the bus, eats lunch with her classmates, and has friends all over school!
River was not the child we expected, but looking back, it was silly to make any kind of expectations as a new parent. We have learned so much about parenting, families, community, and ourselves since she was born. Today we are delighted by the surprises life with River brings along. And by ‘we’ I mean everyone who knows her. She (and her sister too) fill us with love, appreciation and gratitude for what we have been given.”
River is a trailblazer! Keep climbing and conquering mountains, River!
River is #JustLikeYou
Logen loves to travel and loves to laugh! #JustLikeYou
Logen snuggling with and making Mommy smile! #JustLikeYou
Logen having fun on the slide at the playground! #JustLikeYou
Logen playing at the playground. #JustLikeYou
Logen playing with seashells on the beach. #JustLikeYou
Logen loves playing with his brother and sister on the playground! #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Logen! And this is his story.
Logen is 5 years old. He will be six in December. He was diagnosed with level 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder. This means, according to his super mom, Tricia, “my son is currently nonverbal and is starting to communicate using an assistive device. He struggles with sitting and participating in many structured activities because he is very self guided. He is very smart and loves all things outer space. Logen needs many breaks and a very structured routine or else the chaos of the unknown becomes too much for him. He loves and emotes greatly, which is not the norm for children on the spectrum, but he still struggles to make friends and play with others.”
However, Logen doesn’t let anything stop him. He enjoys his iPad, watching Futurama and Simpsons, loves everything about space and Mario Bros, enjoys being outdoors, and playing with animals (particularly dogs). He loves to play with his sister and enjoys swinging in his sensory swing.
Tricia also said, “My child is awesome because he has the biggest heart and loves with all he has. He is the happiest little boy I’ve ever met and his smile brightens the room. He brings awareness and love to everyone he comes in contact with. He reminds us every day of what is really important in the world!”
We at Project: Just Like You think Logen is pretty awesome too! Keep living life to the fullest, little buddy!
Logen is #JustLikeYou
Mason loves his state puzzles. #JustLikeYou
Mason loves to swing at the playground. #JustLikeYou
Mason playing miniature golf with his big brother. #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Mason! This is his story.
From his wonderful mother, Ashley, “Mason is 5 years old. He has been diagnosed with Partial Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum and Autism. This means Mason is missing part of the bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain.
Mason enjoys school, playing with the iPad, learning about the Solar System and the United States, puzzles, books, and swinging at the park.
Mason is awesome because he never gives up. He works hard and loves to learn new things. Mason is sweet and funny and smart, and we are so thankful he is ours.”
Mason continues to thrive!
Mason is #JustLikeYou
To all you amazing warrior parents and guardians.May this be a gentle reminder as you retire for the evening. You are doing a great job.
Ethan showing off his Tae Kwon Do skills! #JustLikeYou
Ethan rocking his super hero powers! #JustLikeYou
Ethan heading off to school wearing his Marvel Comics shirt! #JustLikeYou
Ethan playing at the playground! #JustLikeYou
Ethan in front of his church! #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Ethan. This is his story!
Ethan is 10 years old. He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS with hypotonia at 3 years old. He was also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder by the age of 5.
Ethan is attending public school in a typical mainstream 4th grade class with support. He takes tae kwon do, participates in church and has a passion for many pop culture icons.
From Diana, his amazing mother, “Ethan is amazingly resilient. He has moved schools 4 times and states 3 times. He has tried many mainstream sports without being discouraged. He dreams of being a film director or comic book creator. We were told at the beginning of his diagnosis that he would never attend mainstream school and would likely never write. We were told that delays would always make him set apart. In some ways, he is set apart, but at 10, by the grace of God, he has become a young man who relates in activities more like his peers than not. He has learned to embrace and try to understand autism. I learn everyday from him. I walk each step and learn as I go but I am so thankful.”
Ethan continues to soar.
Ethan is #JustLikeYou
Sadie happily devouring a chocolate chip cookie. #JustLikeYou
Sadie doing what toddlers do best, exploring, and eating Cheerios! #JustLikeYou
Sadie with her family cheering on the KC Royals baseball team! #JustLikeYou
Sadie having fun riding on her bike with her big brother pushing her around the yard. #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Sadielynn. She goes by “Sadie.” This is her story!
Sadie is 1 1/2 years old. She was born April 26, 2015. When she was 3 days old, her mother noticed what she thought were seizures. We later learned that her epilepsy had a genetic cause. She was given the diagnosis of ADNFLE. It is very rare as only roughly 100 people have this diagnosis and very little is known about it. We do know that she should be able to achieve all of her milestones and as she becomes an adult, and her seizures should happen less frequently. Even possibly go into remission! Sadie is now 7 months seizure free.
ABut no one would ever know she has any type of seizure activities! Sadie attacks life with a gusto that knows no bounds! She loves to play with her big brothers, climb anything including the kitchen table and the playground at the park. She loves to root for her family’s favorite team the KC Royals and plays baseball wth her big brother. She loves life and we love her!
Sadie is a happy 1 1/2 year old happy child!
Sadie is #JustLikeYou
Finn, brother Mason, and their mother Kelly showing off their matching outfits, complete with their LuLaRoe leggings! #JustLikeYou
Finn enjoying one of his favorite foods- Cheerios! #JustLikeYou
Finn and his brother Mason are fixing up their jeep to take a spin around the block! #JustLikeYou
Finn showing off his absolute cuteness! #JustLikeYou
Finn and his brother Mason share a special bond. They love snugging and playing together, as siblings do! #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You proudly presents Finn! This is his story.
Meet Finn! Finn means “Warrior.” And what a brave warrior this little guy is in his short 20 months of life! And his middle name Noah means “Long Lived.” He has faced and conquered so much!
Finn was born with heart disease. Basically, he has no chambers in his heart and his red and blue blood mix just like a washing machine.
He spent the first eight months of life in the hospital and endured 10 surgeries including one open heart surgery and he will need several more surgeries including an open heart surgery in the next year or two. Despite all of these challenges and delays, this has not stopped this munchkin at all!
He enjoys wagon rides, playing with his brother and his dog, eating yummy foods like vegetables and Cheerios and even spaghetti! Finn also loves Mickey Mouse, finding Nemo and frozen. He loves to sing and he loves to learn. He is currently learning colors and his ABCs!
Finn is really just a happy 20 month old boy.
Finn is #JustLikeYou
Brady getting ready to ride his tricycle. #JustLikeYou
Brady showing off his new backpack. #JustLikeYou
Brady enjoying life with a huge smile. #JustLikeYou
Brady on his first day of school! #JustLikeYou
Brady in his classroom during morning circle time. #JustLikeYou
Brady as a rockstar belting out his favorite tunes. #JustLikeYou
Project Just Like You proudly presents Brady! This is his story!
Brady is four 1/2 years old. When he was 9 months old, he was diagnosed with a condition called PMG or Polymicrogyria. He has hemiparesis on his left side caused by the PMG. He is completely deaf in his left ear, and received a cochlear implant in 2014. The left sided weakness posed challenges when learning to walk, crawl, and even sit up. Swallowing food was even difficult to master.
Brady is smart, he loves trains, dinosaurs, and Mickey Mouse! He loves playing with his older sister and going to school. He had learned to cope with every challenge he has faced, and has one of the sweetest dispositions ever. His smile is infectious and you can’t help but love this little guy!
Brady is in every sense a typical 4 year old boy.
Brady is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Isaac! This is his story.
“Isaac means “laughter,” and boy does he ever live up to his name! Despite all that he has been through, Isaac spreads joy to everyone he meets, especially through his infectious laugh. He is indeed a very special boy.
Isaac was born with Hurler Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder where children are missing a vital enzyme. After numerous doctor appointments and 3 surgeries, Isaac was diagnosed just 5 days before his 1st birthday. We were told that he would not likely live past 5 and that the only option was a weekly infusion of a synthetic enzyme that may extend his life a little. However, we did our own research and discovered that Duke had a much better answer, offering a bone marrow transplant that would save his life. In addition to the transplant, Isaac has endured a total of 15 surgeries and has had countless painful and frightening medical experiences.
Our little overcomer turns 6 years old in October, and he is constantly laughing and learning new things. He loves his new school as a big kindergartner now. Some of his favorite activities include kickball, riding his tricycle, swimming, going to the park, visiting the zoo, and playing at the Children’s Museum. We couldn’t be more proud of our miracle boy!”
Isaac is #JustLikeYou
Isaac at horse back riding lessons #JustLikeYou
Isaac happily playing in the ocean. #JustLikeYou
Isaac working hard on arts and crafts. #JustLikeYou
Isaac at the zoo holding a parakeet. #JustLikeYou
Isaac with his family on a boat ride, enjoying the fresh air and outdoors. #JustLikeYou