A Love Letter to My Sister-in-Spirit With Down Syndrome

The following is a love letter to a friend who has lit me up with joy and friendship and laughter. She feels like a sister. But don’t mistake her infectious laugh and bright smile as playfulness without purpose; this woman’s got impact.

I met Brittany Schiavone two years ago. Today, she’s a 27-year-old woman thriving with Down syndrome, and the creator of a nonprofit called Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. Her mission is to spread resources, support and, of course, love to families that have newly welcomed a child with Down syndrome into their lives.

I remember meeting her two years ago and thinking to myself, “How many 25-year-olds are living their purpose, or even know what it is?” And there she was, 25 and refusing to let anyone shrink or diminish her.

Brittany, this is my love letter to you. You always remind me that we’re not alone: “I want every baby with Down syndrome to know she can do anything, really, really anything,” you say. So my wish is that this letter celebrates not only you, but reminds every girl or boy of every different ability that she or he is worthy and oh so mighty!

To my sister-in-spirit with Down syndrome,

Do you know how lucky I feel to have you in my life? Thank you for all the heart and star and flower emojis you text me and, of course, your favorite smiley face with the cool shades. Yeah, you’ve got style, too. 

I hope you never stop expressing who you are and how you feel, even if words sometimes feel complicated to get out. You’ve taught me that hugs and hand-holding run deeper than words.

brittany and her friend smiling

Have you noticed, my friend, that your laugh always lights up mine and that your joy never fails to spill over out of you and into everyone else? You steal the room, girl. Every time. Your laughter is not contagious; it’s magnetic. And so are you. Remember that.

Remember, my dear sister-in-spirit, you have purpose. We need your purpose for the world to be full. What your friendship has taught me is that we are connected (even when we can’t see it). For all of us to soar, each one of us needs to soar. I am amazed that, every day, not only do you know your purpose, but you live it. When we are ourselves, we shine so much brighter.

Dear sister, do you know you are a queen? Do you know you should always take up the space you deserve, that you should always use your voice or your song or your dance to express your essence in its fullness? Never shrink, my friend. You are worth too much.

And never let anyone dismiss you based on how you walk, how you talk, how you perceive the world, or how you look. You are beautiful. Exactly as you are. Embrace your gorgeousness.

And, finally, thank you, my friend, for your humor and creativity. Thank you for always singing in the car with me and reaching over to raise the volume every time Meghan Trainor comes on the radio. Thank you for rocking hair brushes as microphones with me and for always ad-libbing Derek Hough’s name for us when Meghan sings, “Dear future husband…”

After meeting you, I know for sure that love and friendship move the world. There is no room for hurtful words between us, for mean language that divides us. This is our chance to stand up together and know that, together, we are stronger. When we’re not afraid to be ourselves — or let anyone else be who they are — and we join forces, we all rise, all people of all abilities.

brittany making a heart with her hands

May you continue reminding everyone you come across that we all deserve to be seen, heard, and loved. You are worthy, my friend. Thank you for your light.

Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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