Blogger, author and photographer Kelle Hampton has been involved with NDSS and the Down syndrome community since her daughter Nella's birth, four years ago. "An hour after Nella was born (after a pregnancy with no indications of Down syndrome)," she said, "our pediatrician came into our birth room and told us that she was pretty certain Nella had Down syndrome, and that she was 'perfect and beautiful.'"
Following the successes of Nella’s ONEder Fund, the 2 for 2 Fund and Nella’sTriple Crown, this year Kelle has worked with NDSS Your Way to launch the Pay it 4Ward Celebration in honor of Nella’s birthday. Each year brings new joys and challenges to Kelle, Nella and their family. As Kelle reflects, "I think every year Nella gets older, recognizing the community of individuals with Down syndrome becomes more a natural part of our life. The first year we decided to do a birthday campaign, everything was still so raw. I cried through the entire month of January, not necessarily in a sad way, but just in a sensitive reaction to everything - writing the campaign posts, talking about Down syndrome, etc. Creating the ONEder Fund was, in a way, a ceremonious wrap-up to a very emotional year. Now, it's so much easier to talk about Down syndrome. It's been a part of our life for four years. Participating in a birthday campaign now is less 'Hey everybody, let's get on this bike!' and more 'We've been pedaling for a while; look how far we've traveled; let's keep this thing going and remember why we're doing it.'"
Kelle’s goals for Nella are the same as for the rest of her children. "I want them to live meaningful lives and have opportunities to contribute their abilities and gifts to the world in a way that makes a difference to someone; and I want them always to have a community of people with which to share love."
To date, the Pay it 4Ward campaign has raised over $21,000 from 34 states and six international countries. Kelle’s goal is not only to raise money, but awareness as well. "Raising awareness means everyday actions. Our goal is to encourage discussions about inclusion and acceptance and remind people – especially our – younger generation why it’s important to keep the momentum going. We share the mission of NDSS. The ability to promote Down syndrome awareness on a national level is important for continued change."
Visit Kelle’s blog to learn more about Nella and her family.