These past couple months have resulted in a whirlwind of opportunities for Abby Ashbrook, a 12-year old Falls Church resident recently titled as the 2023 Ambassador for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. A sister to two girls and daughter to Kate and John, Abby and her family were elated with the news that her hard work and sweet spirit would be officially recognized through the foundation.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation focuses on medical research to improve the quality of life for those with Down syndrome. Addressing correlations between early onset dementia and Down syndrome, congenital heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, the foundation ultimately hopes to raise awareness and support research for the benefit of those with Down syndrome.
“The Down syndrome network is small,” said Kate Ashbrook, Abby’s mother. “We met several people who were part of this foundation because they had a family member, and that was how we got connected with it.”
As an ambassador, Abby was tasked with attending a fundraising dinner on June 7, where she was given the opportunity to speak. Abby used the event to thank the individuals that came out, also thanking individuals for helping her achieve her potential.
“She works hard and has a lot of support to do things that come easily to so many of us,” Kate said. “It was fun to see her feel really proud of something that’s a unique experience.”
As an ambassador, Abby is able to take part in the research and funding goals of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation through representation. Abby stated she felt excited when she found out about this opportunity. She has met with numerous representatives, such as the director of the National Institutes of Health and congressmen, and has attended receptions that highlight Abby’s personality and her newfound role.
Kate echoed Abby in stating she was excited for her daughter’s opportunity; she furthermore stated she felt privileged in being able to take part in this long-term project.
“I felt really privileged to have a role in this,” Kate said. “To be able to play a role in helping [Abby’s] future and the future of others with Down syndrome,I mean, that feels like a real honor.”
Abby was asked in January if she would be willing to take on this role as ambassador. Throughout her life, the newfound ambassador struggled with pain issues and a conglomeration of symptoms practitioners were perplexed about. Nevertheless, with the help of research through the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Abby and her parents have been able to better understand specific factors and causes toward her pain.
Kate noted the Foundation’s research has a potentially tremendous impact on the world.
“It’s really exciting for people with Down syndrome’s quality of life, but also, it could potentially be very significant for the general population,” Kate said.
Some activities Abby enjoys, outside of the professional world, include folding washcloths and spending time on her iPad, which she stated she would love to play “all day long and all night long.” She also plays baseball for the Falls Church Little League Challengers and furthermore made note that she dreams of one day forming a Panera club.
Ultimately, Abby’s vibrant personality and true spirit has resulted in this fortunate position. With this status, Abby is able to represent and be a shining example of diligence to others. When prompted, Abby noted that she hopes others can learn from her.
“If you work hard, you can do a lot of things,” Abby said.