Down Syndrome: Brooke’s Story

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Brooke Garbe

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month


by Mina Frannea

Down Syndrome is a congenital disorder in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. This disorder affects about 1 in every 800 babies born in the United States. In an effort to bring awareness to this condition, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) established the “Down Syndrome Awareness Month” which is traditionally observed in the month of October. The purpose of Down Syndrome Awareness Month is to advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome and to continue to bring awareness for those who are affected by Down Syndrome and their families.

This year, four-year-old Brooke Garbe helped kick off National Down Syndrome Awareness Month as one of 200 people whose photo was selected to appear in the National Buddy Walk Video presented by NDSS in Times Square in New York City. Brooke’s photo (shown above) was selected from over 1,000 entries in the NDSS worldwide call for photos.

Brooke was tested for and diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after her birth in 2007, leaving her mom Lisa feeling shocked an overwhelmed. It took some time for Lisa not only to accept her daughter’s diagnosis, but also to understand the condition and learn about the resources that were available to help her family. Lisa was determined that Brooke would have the same opportunities as her older sister Sheridan and other “mainstream” kids.

Thanks to her Mom, Brooke leads an active lifestyle, has participated in various activities and has received several recognitions:

  • Crowned the 2011-2012 Texas State Cinderella Tiny Tot
  • Takes gymnastics at Empire Gymnastics
  • Chosen for the 2012 National Buddy Walk Video
  • Chosen for the Cook Children’s Annual Report photo shoot featuring children in various sports (gymnastics)
  • Featured in photography exhibit in 2011 as a fundraiser & awareness campaign for Down Syndrome in Houston, TX
  • Feature promotional model and fashion show participant in “The New Faces of Fashion Exhibit & Fashion Show” in 2012 in Dallas, TX

Lisa hopes that Brooke can be an inspiration to others affected by Down Syndrome: “I’ve always been realistic about my children, and I felt like Brooke’s participation might just give the other kids the opportunity to see the abilities alongside the differences, and to grow up with an amazing kid like mine. Maybe Brooke’s participation would inspire these families to see the abilities in all of our children”

About NDSS

The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization with more than 350 affiliates nationwide representing over 400,000 Americans who have Down syndrome.  The mission of NDSS is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.  NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down Syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. For more information visit

Mina Frannea is a freelance writer, web editor and social media professional. A Mom to nine-year-old twins, Mina enjoys writing about family friendly events and activities in DFW, favorite recipes and crafts that keep her children busy and happy. Visit her blog at




3 thoughts on “Down Syndrome: Brooke’s Story

  1. What a great article and love bringing awareness. Just wanted to note that Down syndrome is not a disease.

    Thanks for spreading the word!!!!

  2. Beautiful article !!! I have my baby and he is the best human being ever that I could meet!!! I’m so glad to have him with us!!!

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