When Karrie was born in 1996, I was given many pieces of advice, including never expecting anything from her. No one told me of the joy and the gifts she would bring.
Karrie knows she has Down Syndrome and Autism. I have always been open with her about this. While she knows she does have these diagnoses, she does not see herself as someone who has a disability. She just knows that sometimes she has to try harder and longer than other people to do things that most people take for granted.
What nobody told me about having a child with Down Syndrome was that this child would also have dreams… sometimes very big dreams. Karrie discovered a passion for clothes when she was about 15 when we found a clothing store that carried fashions that fit her body and her style, and were comfortable for her. She immediately decided she wanted to be a model for this store called Wet Seal. While I encouraged her, I wasn’t too sure about this dream. Karrie, however, was very determined. So I did what any mom would do, I gave her all my support.
I took Karrie’s picture before she left for her first day of school in August of 2013. I posted her picture to my Facebook page that morning. With the help of a friend, a Facebook page was created to show Karrie modeling her Wet Seal clothes. I thought this would meet Karrie’s dream of becoming a model. I didn’t take into account how quickly other people would pick up on Karrie’s dream and help her achieve it. I also didn’t take into account my daughter’s determination to be a “real” model.
Wet Seal contacted me through Facebook less than 24 hours after her page had gone public. And in less than 48 hours, Karrie was over 11,000 likes on her page and was told she was being flown to Wet Seal’s corporate office to have her very own photo shoot.
I was pretty nervous about Karrie doing a photo shoot. But in typical Karrie fashion, she quickly won over everyone around her. She asked for some music and the shoot took off! Later that night, I asked Karrie what she wanted to be when she got older, fully expecting her to say “a model”. She surprised me with saying she wanted to be a librarian! I asked her what happened to becoming a model. She said, “I already AM a model!”
Karrie has taken all of her popularity in stride. She has more self-confidence now, but is still the same teenager who has a great sense of humor, who loves to help around the house, and who still loves clothes.
Karrie has a dream to dance with Ellen DeGeneres on her show. Karrie LOVES to dance! This dream is particularly poignant for me because I was told when Karrie was a baby that if she ever walked, she would probably need assistance. She takes Zumba and hip-hop classes every week. Karrie dances in her room for at least an hour a day after school, practicing for when she gets a call from Ellen. She is unwavering in her dream to dance with Ellen!
Karrie has inspired many, many people to not give up on their dreams. She refuses to let a diagnosis define who she is. Karrie has a non-profit, Karried Away, that helps other adults with diagnoses find meaningful employment. Karrie donates 100% of any earnings she receives to KarriedAway.org.
Karrie has a talent for sharing her gift with anyone who knows her or knows of her… her gift of having a dream, of never giving up, of having a positive attitude about herself! To learn more about Karrie and her modeling career, you can follow her on Facebook: Karrie Brown – Modeling the Future
Contributor/Author Bio: Sue Brown
Sue Brown is the loving and devoted mother of the beautiful Karrie Brown. She’s completely supportive and dedicated to her daughter’s passion for modeling and has played a very important role in helping her achieve her dream! Karrie, although diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism, does not let it define who she is, or what she can accomplish. With a great sense of humor and flair for fashion, Karrie lives life with a positive attitude and hopes to one day get a chance to dance with Ellen on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Sue and Karrie are involved in a wonderful and meaningful non-profit charity called KarriedAway.org that assists adults with disabilities find meaningful employment.
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