Brittany Schiavone, a 27-year-old woman thriving with Down syndrome and the founder of her own nonprofit, Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, is a woman with impact. Her mission is to spread guidance, support, hope and, of course, love to families that have newly welcomed (or are expecting) babies with Down syndrome in their lives. To do this, she creates and delivers baskets of hope to new Down syndrome families, and fills the baskets with resources for the parents, gifts for the baby and their siblings, words of wisdom and love from her parents and, most importantly, her story in her own words.
Brittany’s story is central to her baskets because her life — her joy, her accomplishments — is her message. Every day, she shares photos with her 500-plus followers on Facebook of her life: drinks and appetizers on a Friday night with friends, home-cooking for Taco Tuesday, spinach-mango-banana smoothies as she learns to lead a healthy and vibrant life, and photos of her at work, in a play, in a meeting, or going to see a Broadway show. She hasn’t let Down syndrome stop her.
I met Brittany two years ago, and since then, she has become like a sister to me. We spend lots of time singing together, making oatmeal pancakes or avocado sushi, and talking about our celebrity crushes (Derek Hough is a mutual favorite.) But what most impresses me about her is that, at 27, not only does she know her purpose, but she’s living it. “I want babies with Down syndrome to know they can do anything — really, really anything,” she often tells me. Her work is a testament to that, a reminder that no matter who we are or how we’re born, we all can use our talents and our hearts to make our communities better.