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How Running a Gluten-Free Cookie Business Has Helped My Daughter With Down Syndrome

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Four years ago, our family started “Reason to Bake” with the purpose of giving life to my daughter’s dream of becoming a baker.

As we began to walk through the process of a startup, it became clear this vision would also include helping others with disabilities to pursue their dreams, either by working with us or by encouraging them along their path. We believed from the start this was a God-given dream and our lives were going to be changed forever.

This morning, four years later, so many things run through my mind, but I want to start with the first and perhaps most important change we have noticed in my daughter, Carolyn, since beginning this journey. The more Carolyn works as a baker to master skills, the less she worries about what she can’t do. She is too busy looking forward to what she will learn next to be focused on her inabilities. Success begets success.

We have seen this subtle yet important change begin to affect all areas in her life.

For example, she will periodically (without being asked) clean up the kitchen at home by herself just like she does at work. She has started to look at her school work not as something insurmountable, but as another task to master. She also asks for the opportunity to learn and try new skills at work.

Recently, after she had completed her work for the morning and had cleaned up her station, she came to us and asked if she could try scooping cookie dough and pressing down the cookies before baking. She proved to be more than capable and we have her helping on that part of the production line now after she finishes her first job.


Carolyn is learning to embrace the idea that practice makes perfect; that if something is worth doing right it is worth doing to the best of her ability. Does she always approach a task with this kind of attitude? Not hardly! But then, neither do I.

But we have seen a general shift in her desire to move forward with excitement, wonder and commitment. She challenges me daily through her own actions to stop making excuses and to put myself fully into whatever task lies before me.

We also see a confidence in Carolyn that has not been there before. Helping to co-found this baking business has given her opportunities we could never have imagined. She is truly the spokesperson for “Reason to Bake.” Every time she speaks, whether it is in person, to a business or social gathering, on Facebook video recording or on live television, she exudes poise and courage that we know is a direct result of this venture.

Through this business, Carolyn continually has opportunities to meet new people and relate her story.

She has learned to interact with the public. She has mastered many skills in the kitchen and she has learned to believe in herself. It is evident she is proud of our cookies, and rightly so, since we have had to work hard together to make the very best product we can.

She continues to challenge me to expect more from her and to give her the chance to try. She is excited about what lies ahead and is unafraid of new challenges because she believes that God is with her.

All of us come with our own set of limitations. But just like Carolyn, we can refuse to be defined by them. We can choose to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t, and allow God to make up the difference. As Carolyn challenges me daily to let her try, my own excuses dry up and blow away. There really are no limits for any of us when we choose to let ourselves dream.

Just ask Carolyn.

Follow this journey (and buy cookies) at Reason to Bake.

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Originally published: September 20, 2017
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