On Christmas Day in 2011 Jason and Eilene Franks received a gift unlike any other – the birth of their son Hudson. Shortly after welcoming Hudson into the world, the couple learned that Hudson would live his life with Down syndrome.
“We didn’t have an absolute diagnosis until Hudson was born,” Eilene said. “I remember Hudson being in the NICU and the social worker at the hospital giving us some information about DSACO.”
A couple of days after Jason and Eilene brought Hudson home from the hospital, they attended their first DSACO new parents breakfast. There, they were welcomed into the group with open arms.
“Going to that breakfast was exactly what we needed,” Eilene said. “I needed a mom to hug me and to tell me that ‘your life is going to be awesome, Hudson’s life is going to be awesome.’”
In addition to an abundance of hugs, the Franks appreciated receiving a “ton of information,” on a variety of issues related to being parent of a child with Down syndrome. Eilene also recalled seeing parents with older children, including one who was about to graduate.
“Things are going to be okay.”
That thought first occurred to Eilene during that initial DSACO new parent breakfast.
“I remember one mom telling me that it was time for her daughter to move out,” Eilene said. “That it was time to for her to experience life and gain some independence. That morning gave us a lot of hope for Hudson’s future.”
Years later, as Hudson approaches school age, Eilene relies on the DSACO network to help her get through tough days.
“Most of the time all that I need to hear someone else say is ‘I get it,’” Eilene said. “It’s so comforting to have this group of close friends that I know that we’re going to live life with.”
DSACO scholarships have afforded Jason and Eilene the opportunity to attend two annual conventions of the National Down Syndrome Society, one in
Denver and another in Indianapolis. Here, they met other Down syndrome families from all over the world and continued learning.
“Attending the national conventions taught us to take Hudson’s life one step at a time,” Eilene said.
Eilene said that she and Jason hope those steps include Hudson finding a calling that he’s passionate about and for him to thrive in that area.
“We hope that he has a job that he enjoys, that he finds someone and gets married and that he lives life as independently as possible,” Eilene
said. “Many parents facing this first think ‘He’ll never do this or those really aren’t his dreams.’ But like with any child, you have to let them find their interests help them along the way.”