The star of my story is my niece, Jackie Zadina. When we learned of her Down Syndrome, we really didn't know what to expect. We, meaning her family and everyone who loved her, learned that there were some hurdles that Jackie would have to jump and that the things WE so easily took for granted, were huge steps for her. There were speech therapists, and physical therapists. A lot of doctors and nurses. We had just entered a whole new world we knew nothing about. And we all got to learn it along with Jackie. Jackie is now 24 years old and she is one of the best friends that I could have ever asked for. To put down in words, to God, what I needed in a person; to be there for me; to love me unconditionally; to always put others first. He would have given me Jackie. He did give me Jackie. Jackie doesn't have an ounce of anger in her body. She doesn't understand the concept of hate. She dislikes nobody. Although a bit shy, Jackie has a smile for everyone she meets. You can tell by just watching her, when she sees someone that she loves so immensely, how her eyes light up and her smile takes over her whole face. Not just her mouth. She loves to hug and even though she won't admit it, she loves getting kisses. And giving them. Jackie has shown me how fragile life is and how we need to show love to others; show love back to those that love us; and no matter how frustrating life gets, smile at the unknown; smile at what comes next. I think more of the world could benefit from seeing things the way Jackie sees them. I think we would have a lot less crime, a lot less stress, and a whole lot more love, if we could view the world from Jackie's eyes. Jackie and I love to jam out to Shania Twain's “Man, I feel like a woman,” or “Any man of mine.” Her favorite family game is a game she made up, called “Pick Me!” Because she's so shy, it takes a lot to make Jackie laugh out loud but when I do, I feel like I am on top of the world and have just taken the Gold Medal. And speaking of gold medals, Jackie loves to share her experiences from the Special Olympics with everyone she sees. She has many medals and ribbons and loves to show them off. She loves to compete in the walking races, softball throw and bowling, among many others. She is always so proud when I can make it to her practices or events. I bet she doesn't even have a clue as to how my heart swells with pride and love for her, both in and out of the events. To Jackie. My best friend forever. My story. My tribute.