The story of Andrew
One in 720 children is born with Down syndrome. One of these precious children, Andrew, was born into our family in 2003. We discovered he would be born with Down syndrome 15 weeks before he was born. Because we are Christians who believe that he was a child of God at that point, we rejected the doctor's immediate offer to terminate Andrew. Though Andrew would have a life different from what we had imagined, we determined it would be the best possible life for him.
A few weeks after we learned Andrew would be born with Down syndrome, a lovely doctor told us that Andrew's quality of life would depend on three things and only three things:
. Genetics - the genes he was born with he inherited from his parents
. Medical issues - any child born ith serious medical issued might be prone to
. Environmental stimulation - the care an focus he receives from his family
determines how fast and how well he would develop.
Now, at ten years old, Andrew is a flourishing young man. He loves and plays several sports, he reads well, he knows over 600 words in sign language (ASL), he is mainstreamed in school and he's currently learning Spanish. (He's a spelling star as well!)
But what will become of Andrew as he grows to be first an adolescent and then an adult? Since 90% of Down syndrome fetuses in the US are terminated before birth these days, there will be less and less people like Andrew for him to socialize or live with.
Upside Down is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults with Down syndrome. We have created this non-profit with the specific goal of providing a live-work environment for Andrew and his peers. We intend this organization to be privately funded so it can concentrate solely on the unique needs of people with Down syndrome.
The first phase of our work is to raise $3 million in funding and to find land to build our facility, initially for 20 adults. We expect to attract some large donors and many donors who are able just to give a dollar or two to help us.
Phase two will be to build the facility - our target is to be able to welcome our first guests in 2018, five years from now.
Daonna Depoister and Andy Start have been married for over 17 years. They have two sons: Zachary (13) and Andrew (9). Both have been presidents of non-profits before and have served on other non-profit boards. Daonna holds a BA in Marketing and is the visionary leader behind Upside-Down. She works with donors, healthcare representatives and business partners and is focused on fund-raising for the next couple of years. Andy holds a BA in Business Administration and runs the business day to day.
The entire family are active members of Calvary Lutheran Church of Golden Valley, MN. They have lived in Plymouth, MN for 15 years.