Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | November 28, 2009

Gracie Is Hospitalized

Gracie was ambulanced to Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis MN on 11/20. Gracie was diagnosed with a severe spinal cord compression of her C1, C2, and C3 vertebre. She will have several surgeries and a very long hospitlization. To learn more visit Gracie at Visit Gracie by entering her name in the visit section, “gracielarson”. (all one word all lower case).

Thank you everyone for your prayers and heartfelt support.

Dennis, Laura, Alyssa and Gracie

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | October 23, 2009



 Be sure to check out these adorable kiddos….who just like Gracie have a lil’ something extra. See the amazing  joy they bring their families. Photo’s brought to you through in celebration of National Down Sydrome Awareness Month (October).

Here they are:

In retrospect, the joys and lessons Gracie has brought us through her extra chromosome are true blessings, simply priceless!

  • We love purer
  • No milestone goes uncelebrated
  • We give more thanks, and we ask for less
  • We are more compassionate
  • We are more patient…we more tolerant
  • We are no longer selfish
  • We are no longer ignorant
  • We educate
  • We have become true “Cheerleaders”
  • We celebrate the gift of life daily

Thank you for once again sharing your day with us. Our vistors make our day!

Laura, Gracie and Family

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | October 15, 2009

2009 Buddy Walk & Pictures

This year’s Buddy Walk was AMAZING! We had over 1,000 smiley participants and fabulous weather! The family and community networking has grown enormously since our family began participating in 2006. To give you an idea how much its grown. 2003 was Designer Genes first Buddy Walk. 2005 was Gracie’s Groupies first year participating and we had around 250 walkers. Today….2009 we had over 1,000 walkers! 

Gracie’s Groupies, as we are known, sported traditional hippie themed items and some super groovy t-shirts! T-shirts were made available for purchase prior to the walk. Money raised above the t-shirt costs was given to our local Down syndrome support group, Designer Genes.

Here’s some pictures from our special day.

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I took a quick photo. Not every Groupie was present but this represents probably 75% of Gracie’s Groupies.

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Daddy taking it all in.

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Just hanging out after the walk.

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Sam is second from the left (leaning in) with a baseball cap. Sam is Gracie’s former Respite worker and a dear family friend now. Sam brought some of her family up for the walk, including her Mom first left. Alyssa and Gracie LOVE Sam!

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Tree Monkeys…..a rare North Dakota species. These tree Monkeys were incredibly tame too! We named them Alyssa and Caitlynn.

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Just another tree pose by compliments of Big Sister.

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Our FAMOUS Groupie and team leader Miss Gracie!

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Another Groupie group picture

And finally a special surprise! Our picture appeared on one of our local television stations. It is truly candid since clearly none of us know our picture is being taken. Here it is including another famalies story:


Thank you for sharing your day with us, God Bless!

Dennis, Laura, Alyssa and Gracie

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | September 25, 2009

Tomorrow is our Buddy Walk….

And each year it brings back emotions of the day we learned…..the day we learned our lives would not continue as planned. The day we learned our lives would change. The day we learned we were no longer in control of our lives.

The amazing beauty of ending up where we did is the valuable life lessons we’ve learned. 

We recognize many of our online supporters may not be able to join us, although we are certain you will think of us. Please consider lighting a candle for Gracie’s and others who have Down syndrome tomorrow between 10:00-12:00 central standard time to remind you and those around you the absolute beauty Down syndrome brings.

Pictures will be forthcoming, and if you would like to see picturs of past year’s Buddy Walks you can view them at Click on Buddy Walk and photo gallery.

OUR FAMILY  (This goes out to our friends too because we consider you family!)

Our family… a circle of strength and love…

With every birth and every union the circle grow,

Every joy shared adds more love,

Every crisis faced together

Makes the circle stronger.

Thank you sharing your support!

Laura, Gracie and Family

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | August 24, 2009

Siblings Perspective on Down syndrome


This powerful video was created by Gigi’s Playhouse. As a parent I feel I finally have a better understanding of what siblings may think of their sibling with Down syndrome. Ya know….there  is only so much you can get out of the mind of a 6 year old! After 4 years I still hadn’t felt like I gotten Alyssa’ s perspective. And the question and my emotions continued to persist. Until now….

This video tugs at my heart and left me in tears! But the tears were all happy!  Finally I feel I’m at peace with what Down syndrome may mean in Alyssa’s mind…in a siblings perspective. The video is powerful and inspiring. Please take a moment to watch this Emmy awarded video and see what siblings had to say!

BIG thanks to the families who participated in the beautiful documentary. Your words are priceless! Also, thank you GiGi’s Playhouse for all you do. And lastly THANK YOU OUR LITTLE MIRACLES for teaching our world the true meaning of perfection and the true meaning of unconditional love!

Thanks for stopping by!

Laura, Gracie and Family


Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | August 20, 2009

It’s Buddy Walk Season!

Just a reminder from Gracie and I to be sure to support your local Buddy Walk. The Buddy Walk was founded by the National Down Syndrome Society. The walk promotes Down syndrome awareness, education, and advocacy. The find a Buddy Walk near you, visit and put in your zip code.

This year “Gracie’s Groupies” will be going strong! We will be the grooviest hippies around. Our slogan “A Groovy Time in 2009!”.

Here are some pictures from our 2007 and 2008 Buddy Walks,  including this years t-shirt.


We will still be dressed like Hippies, but this year we will be sporting groovy lime green t-shirts!



The grooviest BIG sister in town!


Grandma and Great-Grandma


Daddy, Gracie and Counsin Shannon


Great-Grandma is the grooviest and hippiest “Groupie” around!


A few of the “Groupies” stop for a quick pose!



Daddy reflecting on how our lives have changed…


Our “Groupie” leader plum tired!


Great-Grandma and Grandma taking a break


A birds eye view


Grandma and Grandpa

If you made it this far, great! We hope these pictures inspire you to participate in a Buddy Walk near year. It a great day for awareness, education, and celebration!

Thanks for sharing your day with us!

Gracie and Family

P.S. pictures do take a bit to download, but they are worth the wait!

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | July 29, 2009

An All Star Among Us!











The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also popularly known as the “Midsummer Classic”, is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League. For avid baseball fans like ourselves it is an exciting game to watch and one day dream of going to!

This years 7/14 game was attended by self advocate Brad Hennefer and his Brother Bob. Brad was recently honored and selected by People Magazine as a top 30 community leader for the creation of  his “Golf For Life Foundation”, which encourages, teaches, and facilitates golf competitions exclusively for individuals with Down syndrome. You can learn more about Brad’s amazing foundation at : 

Because of Brad’s honorary designation in collaboration with the MLB All Star Game and People Magazine’s “An All Star Among Us” campaign Brad was recognized for his community service and talent. He not only attended the game  in person with his Brother Bob but was honored! Here are some videos recognizing Brad’s great accomplishments.

Thank you for sharing your day with us! We hope through our positive messages we can create a world that celebrates and embraces Down syndrome!

Laura, Gracie and Family

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | July 20, 2009

We have a 4 year old in the house! (Birthday Pictures)

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Yes, that’s right I’m 4!

Certainly Gracie won several huge battles scoming into this world. She’s our little fighter, and little is an understatement. Weighing in at 25 pounds and sporting 18-24 months clothing is Miss Gracie endulging in her birthday cake and pony ride from Dad!

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  Is that ALL mine?


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  Green Mustache!


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Big D is a purebred Quarter Horse Stallion. 15.2hh. 39 yr old. He may be older but He still has go in him. Handsome Stallion. Fun to be around and to ride. Goes english and western and bare-back! He suits beginner or Intermidate riders. For more info and pictures of Big D please contact Laura.

Thanks for sharing your day with us!

Laura & Family

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | July 15, 2009

Meet Self Advocate Jessica Green!


Self Advocate means speaking up for yourself about the rights and responsibilities in your life.  People that speak up for themselves are called “self-advocates”. Self Advocates are an inspiration to many. Individuals with Down syndrome have an amazing and magnetic personality. They challenge those around them to find happiness in everyday.  Meet self advocate Jessica Green!

“Hello! My name is Jessica Green. I am proud to say that I am a self advocate,  inspirational speaker, and a serve on the Down Syndrome Indiana Board.

I am now 25 years old and have and hope to continue to have a full and meaningful life. My parents were told that they would have to motivate me to do most everything when I was a baby and boy were they misinformed. I love helping families understand what a great life and future they and their child will have.

I completed high school where I was in an inclusive program and worked part-time. I volunteered at the YMCA and Humane Society. I then went on to attend Marion College for one year and now I am working at Advantage Medical in Carmel, Indiana. I volunteer at DSI and socialize whenever I can. I am in the process of moving out of my parents house and into an apartment which is exciting and a bit scary but I really can’t wait. I continue to “push the envelope” as my mom would say.

This summer I was a presenter on a panel discussing relationships at the National Down Syndrome Conference in Boston. I also performed at the talent show with a friend that I met last year at the conference in Kansas.

I hope to continue to become more involved as a self advocate and work and see my life unfold as an adult.”

For more about Jessica visit here blog by clicking here.

We hope we have inspired you to be your own self advocate or an advocate for someone else!

Laura, Gracie & Family

Posted by: graciesgiftof47 | June 26, 2009

~Hidden Treasures~

The following is a blog…a story of two parents….a family who opened their hearts to adoption. This is their adoption journey, of not but one little girl with Down syndrome but of TWO little girls with Down syndrome!

Be sure to always celebrate your gifts.

Thanks for stopping by! May your day and weekend be a happy one!

Laura & Family

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