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"The doctors say: 'I'm sorry, you have a baby with Down syndrome.' The nurses are somewhat apologetic. Everyone's upset. Your family doesn't know how to handle this."
So she set out to make sure those apologies turned into praises for her daughter, Brittany. And she succeeded.
"Babies who have Down syndrome can do anything."
The baskets contain handknit baby blankets knit by people all over the U.S., a onesie with the phrase "Down Right Perfect" and various educational resources for parents. About one in 700 babies born in the U.S. each year have Down syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's caused by an extra chromosome and has widely varying effects on growth and intellectual development, sometimes in tandem with identifiable physical traits.
"We had no idea so many people in the country knitted."
Sue Schiavone said so many people have helped that the family's "basement is loaded with knitted items for babies."
So far, Brittany's Baskets of Hope has sent a total of 800 packages to 49 states and Puerto Rico. Recently, Brittany Schiavone was named a finalist in the L'Oreal Paris "Women of Worth" national competition, which honors women who selflessly help others.
As a finalist, she earned $10,000, an amount that will help defray supply and shipping costs for the baskets.