Hayden Holmes, born May 19, 2010 * Son of Tom and Alicia Holmes

Tom and Alicia Holmes wanted to have a child, but after eight years they had not been able to conceive. Despite the disappointment, the couple moved forward together. They celebrated other milestones, including Alicia’s 40th birthday on January 8, 2010. Unbeknownst to them, Alicia was pregnant as she entered a new decade of life and that spring Hayden Holmes became a member of their family.

Three days after giving birth to Hayden, Tom and Alicia learned of his Down syndrome diagnosis. While Alicia admits that having a baby with a disability was not what she and Tom were expecting or hoped for, she is also quick to point out that it would not have changed anything other than her preparation.

“It was a blow, but not a death sentence,” Alicia said. “We were just completely unprepared.”

Several months after Hayden’s birth, Alicia’s eyes were opened to the local Down syndrome community when she and her mother went to Bricktown Ballpark, sat down on a bench near the main gate and took in the sights and sounds of a Buddy Walk.

“I looked at Hayden and thought ‘I’ve found this community where my son will be accepted and where he belonged,’” Alicia said. “It was amazing to see such a diverse collection of people from all walks of life coming together in one place, accepting each other.”

Shortly thereafter, in early 2011, the Holmes family was introduced to DSACO and attended a new parents breakfast. Since then, several new avenues have opened up for the Holmes family thanks to DSACO. Among these is DSACO’s tutoring program.

“The DSACO learning center is beautiful,” Alicia said. “All of the computers have touch screens, wireless access, and oversized monitors. We are very thankful for those who volunteer in the learning center, serving as mentors to our kids, helping them look ahead.”

Alicia speaks with zeal when considering Hayden’s own future.

“He is the center of my universe,” Alicia said. “If he wants to be president, I’m going to run his campaign.”

“Our Down syndrome family…”

While the tangible attributes of DSACO number many, Alicia said she and Tom have benefitted most from the intangible.

“The biggest thing is the DSACO network,” Alicia said. “They are family. We are all in 100% support of each other, regardless of the circumstances.”

And this support goes beyond dealing with issues related to being parents of children with Down syndrome. Alicia cited support she received from DSACO family when her mother was in the hospital, shortly before she died in January 2016.

“I was kind of floating through the days and I called my friend Eilene Franks,” Alicia said. “She held my hand and prayed for me. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Literally, figuratively and virtually we all hold each other’s hand.”

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