Becky Ronan is the Vice-President of the DSC Board of Directors and is a very important part of our organization. She brings to our community a unique perspective – that of a parent and a sibling. We talked with Becky about her brother, her daughter, and the DSC.
Tell us about your relationship with your brother: Kevin was born in 1968, when little was understood about Down syndrome. My parents were told he was a “mongoloid” and they should not bring him home. He became a ward of the State of Minnesota. I did not get to grow up with my brother as a sibling, but as someone we visited in a group home on birthdays and holidays. Because that was society’s norm back then, I never really thought anything different about Kevin living in a home other than ours. I loved going to visit him and always made sure to see him and his friends when I was in town. I eventually became co-guardian of Kevin along with my mom. I love seeing Kevin’s pure joy when he sees his family and my kids (Bella and Frannie). He is genuinely so happy to be with everyone. It helps make up a bit for the time we lost together as children. His caregiver brought him here for the 2015 Puget Sound Buddy Walk. He wore his medal every day for months afterward.
How did you feel when you found out your youngest daughter had Down syndrome too? I didn’t experience the fear, sadness, and shock that some people feel. I always enjoyed being around people with Down syndrome and felt an immediate connection because of my brother. When I had Frannie, I didn’t seek out immediate support because Ds wasn’t anything new to me.
When did you first get involved with the DSC? When Frannie was 3, I heard about the Down Syndrome Community’s Sweetheart Dance. I was excited to meet other families, so we attended and had a wonderful time meeting people of every age with Ds. I heard there were elections for the board coming up so I threw my name in the hat. I’ve been a member ever since.
What is your favorite thing about the DSC? I love this community. I enjoy the friendships that both Frannie and I have made. It’s important for Frannie to have friends that are typically developing and friends with Down syndrome. All people like to be around people that they have something in common with.
What DSC program or activity is your favorite? I have two actually. I am very passionate about the First Call Program. It’s so important that the information people first receive when there is a Down syndrome diagnosis is up to date and accurate – NOT the doom and gloom that was given to my parents almost 50 years ago. I also LOVE the Puget Sound Buddy Walk. It brings our entire community together – individuals with Ds, family members, friends, and organizations that support the DSC. It’s a huge celebration for people with Ds. For some members, it’s the only event they participate in all year long. The fact that we are over 1400 strong, walking through the middle of the Seattle Center, shows the community that we are here and happy – celebrating people with Down syndrome!
What is the greatest challenge you have faced having a family member with Down syndrome? We are constantly fighting outdated perceptions that people have about what it means to have Ds and what people with Ds are capable of. But I’m excited to see the change happening – the change that has taken place over my brother’s lifetime, the change I’ve seen just in the past few years since being a part of the DSC, and the change I envision for the future.
What is your hope for the future of the DSC? I would love for the Down Syndrome Community of Puget Sound to become more of a household name in the region. We are amongst a big metropolitan area with lots of people and major corporations. The more people we reach, the greater opportunity we have to change the perceptions of people with Ds. Through a change in perception we can build acceptance, respect, and inclusion for everyone.
Thank you Becky, for your dedication to the DSC and for being a lifelong champion of people with Down syndrome. We are as hopeful and excited for the future as you are!