Annie Forts, born in 1967 with Down Syndrome and the inspiration behind the "UP Syndrome Fund," has brought motivation to many young people and adults with DS. Despite their doctor's recommendations to put her in an institution (which was very common for these babies in the 1960's), Ann's family paved a new path for individuals with Down Syndrome by wholeheartedly accepting and nurturing her like any other "typical" child. Ann and her family have since made it their mission to speak out about the rights of individuals living with disabilities ... or, as Ann would put it, "disABILITIES." In addition to being the inspiration behind the Up Syndrome Fund, Ann served as a member of the The President's Committee on Mental Retardation during the Clinton administration, is a "Goodwill Ambassador" in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and speaks out about the rights of individuals with Down Syndrome regularly around the country.
At the early age of just 7, Ann would to cross out the word "Down" with crayon on the National Down Syndrome Congress Newsletter and replace it with the word "Up." In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I'd like to leave you all tonight with a few amazing quotes that show just how extraordinarily inspiring Ann Forts is.
"The doctor who discovered Down Syndrome many years ago was Dr. John Langdon Down. I really wish that his name was Dr. Up, so that today Down Syndrome could be called "UP" Syndrome instead. Then maybe people would begin with a better attitude towards us as they start to understand what we are all about and what we are really capable of doing."
"You must make things happen -- don't wait around for someone else to make things happen for you. While you are waiting, you will be missing out on some great things that you could have made happen for yourself."
"Help us when we need help, but only enough help so we can finish what we were doing on our own."
"Please don't ignore us, or look the other way when we approach you. Doing that to us will not make us or our disability go away. We didn't have a choice about our disability, but you definitely have a choice in how you accept us!"