The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
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My Amazing Niece
Teresa and her Parents
Teresa and her Parents
My Amazing Niece

There are few people in this world that will leave their imprint on you for the rest of your life. That person for me is my niece, Teresa Marie Medvetz. Teresa's parents knew how critical it was to provide early intervention and the importance of mainstreaming Teresa through her formative years, not only for Teresa's sake, but also to educate the people who would be in Teresa's life about Down syndrome. Teresa had to overcome challenges in her life at an early age. At the age of 4 she was diagnosed with leukemia, within two months she went into remission, though she continued to be in and out of Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital during the next three years. There were uncertain times when it was unknown whether she would live. One bright spot for Teresa during this experience was a trip to Walt Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She enjoyed a special breakfast with her favorite Disney character, Cinderella. In 1995, Teresa was considered cured and today, at age 24, Teresa remains cancer free. Teresa is part of a very large extended family. Teresa has more than the average number of aunts, uncles and cousins. There is a lot of love and respect that travels through this large family with Teresa being not only a taker, but a huge giver of that love and respect. Teresa's cousin, 17-year-old Hayden Shock said "Teresa taught me a lot of lessons in my life, even though we don't talk a lot she still taught me a really important part of my life that I had to do, respect people, no matter what. I love her!"' Hayden's first language is American Sign Language and Teresa is able to communicate with Hayden using ASL. At Hayden's mother's 50th birthday party, Teresa performed "Shout to the Lord"' using ASL. Hayden recorded it and he was so proud of her performance he put it on YouTube for all to see. Please check it out at: Teresa really enjoys music and likes to perform songs using ASL. She has performed with several signing groups. Spending time with friends and family is one of Teresa's favorite activities. She also loves to hold babies and in our large family there have been plenty of opportunities. If you are fortunate enough to meet Teresa you will discover early on that she is quite articulate. A few years ago Teresa and I were engaged in a conversation that I will never forget. She was discussing her thoughts on being born with Down syndrome and how it affects her. She said "I know that I have Down syndrome. That is okay. I like myself and I know that God loves me for who I am."' Teresa, to me, has it together and has taught us all what is really important in life and that is acceptance. Teresa not only accepts herself for who she is, she accepts others for who they are. What else is there to learn?

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