As we are consumed by media coverage and haunted by the bus-semi crash that killed 15 Humboldt Bronco hockey players and staff last week, the victims of another bus crash are deserving of our thoughts and prayers, too. It was a small item in the paper, but no less horrific. 27 people, 23 of them children between the ages of 4 and 12, were killed when a private school bus carrying 34 people went off a cliff in India. As we grieve for our Canadians, and think fervently hopeful thoughts for those injured and affected, it’s a gesture of shared humanity that we take a moment to think of families on the other side of the world and extend our compassion to them, too.
I didn’t make that up for World Down Syndrome Day, but I wish I had! Hard to believe, but I’ve known Jessica Rotolo since 1998, and her dynamo mom since 1978. Not surprised to see that Jessica has turned into a firecracker, too. Mom Dorlean and I lost touch for a few years; she moved to Toronto, I became the communications person for the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living, an advocacy organization making life better for people with intellectual disabilities. I gained a husband and three stepchildren, one of whom, Jim, has Down syndrome. She got married to Joe, and had two girls. Back in 1998, by a little twist of fate, I got a call at my office one day. It was my old buddy Dorlean. “I think there’s a reason we met 20 years ago,” she said. “I just had a little girl. She’s beautiful. Her name is Jessica. She has Down syndrome.” When I screeched and yelled “Congratulations!” the years in between disappeared, and we were reconnected by Jim and Jessica. Fast forward: Jim was just named the Saskatoon YMCA Volunteer of the Year 2017 for over two decades of steady service. That’s my old pal Dorlean and Joe with Jessica, holding the Friends Don’t Count Chromosomes sign. Brilliant. Take a look at Jessica, appearing on CBC’s The Goods morning show and CITY’s Breakfast Television in Toronto to make everyone aware of World Down Sydrome Day last week (the whole wearing odd socks was part of the campaign). Jessica is hitting the Big 2-0 soon in April. Happy Birthday, Jessica! Keep it up; you’re becoming a great ambassador for people with and without disabilities, and I’m proud to count you among my homies with extra chromies!