WHEN Daithí Hanley was born four years ago, his mother Charlotte says that both she and his dad cried “because this life was unfamiliar and was a huge unknown”.
Daithí, from Ballingarry in County Limerick, was born with Down Syndrome.
Charlotte told the Limerick Post that while his diagnosis was an initial shock, her fears were soon replaced with a fierce love when it emerged that her baby boy needed lifesaving surgery shortly after birth.
“That was when the maternal instinct and love really kicked in. Him having Down Syndrome was irrelevant. We just wanted him to recover. And he did.”
Charlotte said she and her family linked in with Down Syndrome Limerick soon after, finding love, support, and guidance in the community.
“They were instrumental in setting out a path of therapy, community, and friendship for us in those first few months.”
Daithí was a fighter from the get-go. His mother says that he works hard at reaching his milestones and it is a cause for celebration every time he achieves them.
“He works hard to develop his speech and life skills with the support of Down Syndrome Limerick. We are blessed to be a part of this wonderful community and I don’t know what we would do without them”.
Down Syndrome Limerick are preparing for their annual World Down Syndrome Day celebrations on March 21, a global celebration of people with Down Syndrome and the important contribution they make in their communities.
This year the theme is ‘With Us Not For Us’, which is focused on a human rights-based approach to disability – the right to be treated fairly, have the same opportunities as everyone else, and the freedom for people to make their own choices.
Almost 200 people with Down syndrome avail of the services of Down Syndrome Limerick. Their youngest members are newborn babies and their oldest member is 76.
Parental support, counselling, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, school supports programmes, adult education and employment programmes are among some of the services on offer at Down Syndrome Limerick.
The charity is run on a voluntary basis by parents whose main objective is to help people with Down syndrome reach their full potential and realise their dreams.
They currently receive no government funding and are reliant on the support of individuals and businesses to help with their fundraising campaigns.
On March 21, schools, businesses, clubs and individuals are asked to wear colourful socks to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.
Down Syndrome Limerick would appreciate any donations to support their campaign. Donations can be made here