Becky Voorwinde's blog

Winning The Title

Editor's Note: As we close out National Down Syndrome Month, we wanted to share another important voice focusing on living with Down Syndrome.

At 2 lbs 3 oz, Ilyse had already acquired the name "wild woman." Born prematurely with Down Syndrome, Ilyse showed spunk and grit and the intensive care unit nurses acknowledged this with a nickname. Later, as a competitor in Special Olympics, Ilyse's uncanny ability to capture the limelight led to her being called "Hollywood".  But the honorific that has had the greatest transformative effect on Ilyse is that of "Auntie."

Ilyse holding her niece. Courtesy of Becky Voorwinde

For Young Adults Who Can't Access Hillel, Where Is Jewish Life?

Ilyse loves singing Hebrew songs that she learned at Camp Ramah in New England. She loves watching the camp video where she can relive her summer memories as an Amitzim (special needs) camper, laughing with all her friends. That sense of Jewish connection and belonging that Ilyse feels at camp is exactly what we, as her mother and older sister, dream of finding for her in her school year and year-round in her adult life. Yesterday, Ilyse turned twenty. She has Down Syndrome. 

Betty Ross and Ilyse Ross
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