Ashley Deramus, First Woman With Down Syndrome to Sing National Anthem in all 50 States
It all started with the pledge of allegiance in Los Angeles, California, at a political rally. I was blown away because it was my first time on stage in front of a lot of people. The next time I remember was singing the national anthem in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the National Quartets Convention with the Dixie Melody Boys. I was nervous because there were thousands of people there. After that, I decided I wanted to sing in all 50 states.
I love America, I love all of our soldiers. I wanted to honor them and our country. I also wanted to show people with Down syndrome that they can be informed voters, and the importance of being a part of our elections.
After that, we started traveling around the country. Some of my favorites were the USS Massachusetts at the memorial service for Captain Robin and Claudine Christian, who died when the HMS Bounty sank during hurricane Sandy.
I got to sing in Sutton, North Dakota. It is a tiny town, population 17, that was named after my great grandfather. Another favorite was the Rose Bowl parade. I also got to sing in Congressman Bachus’ office and Congresswomen Sewells office. It was overwhelming to be in their offices in Washington D.C. Another favorite was when I sang at the county fair in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Also, I wrestled a pig after I sang. It was so much fun and muddy, but I did catch the pig!
I was honored to sing at Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor day. I have sung at churches, schools, Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon, Duck Dynasty, Central Park, and even a corn field, and beside a giant John Deer tractor in Kansas. This are just a few of my favorites.
Of course, Alaska was the most amazing because I knew I was finally reaching my goal. I was greeted by Mayor Beth Weldon and Juneau Port Director Carl Uchytil. There were representatives from the police and fire departments and a crowd of people who gathered to listen to me sing in Alaska — my final state.
The traveling was different because I had always stayed at home and worked in my office and at the Bell Center for early intervention. I missed the babies but I was very excited because I had never had such a big challenge. I really enjoyed seeing all of the United State and traveling in our RV with our dogs. It took seven years and the experience has forever changed my life.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, show them what you can do.” — Ashley Deramus