Brittany Schiavone’s mother, Sue, knows firsthand what it is like to receive a Down syndrome diagnosis for a child. She told Fox Business, “When a family has a baby with Down syndrome, most often, the first words they hear are: ‘I’m sorry.'” She added, “The nurses are somewhat apologetic. Everyone’s upset. Your family doesn’t know how to handle this.”
But the experience does not need to be so traumatic, and the Schiavones wanted to share hope and support with families receiving a diagnosis like they received with their daughter, Brittany. They are not only sharing their story of joy and hope but also giving tangible resources to new parents.
Three years ago, Brittany, now 30, founded a nonprofit called Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. The organization delivers baskets to families of babies with Down syndrome across the country. Each basket includes a handknit baby blanket, a onesie with the phrase “Down Right Perfect,” and a variety of toys and educational materials for parents.
According to Brittany’s website, “Since delivering our first basket of hope in October 2016, we have now sent 800 baskets of hope to families in 49 states across the country (and Puerto Rico)!” The mission of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope is simple: to be a positive voice in a culture that sees potential disability as a reason not to live and a diagnosis as a reason for fear.
Instead of “sorry,” the Schiavones say “congratulations” and give parents hope. Their mission states: “Our baskets of hope offer parents the resources, connection, joy, and hope they deserve.”
Fox Business reports that the handknitted baby items in every basket come from volunteers across the country. Sue quipped, “We had no idea so many people in the country knitted.” At this point, the family’s basement is filled with knitted items waiting to be sent in future baskets.
For her work founding and running Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, Brittany is a finalist in the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth national competition. As a finalist, she received $10,000, which she will put toward shipping costs.
Brittany told L’Oreal Paris, “By being a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, I get to spread love, hope, and resources to families all over the country that began just like mine. I get to remind parents of babies with Down syndrome that their child will live with purpose and joy and that children with Down syndrome can do anything—really, really anything.”
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