An Extra Chromosome in Our Lives
In August of 2010, our lives were changed unexpectedly and set us on the most amazing journey. Our first child, our son Zachary was born and shortly afterwards we were surprised by a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) is a genetic condition in which there is a third copy of the 21st chromosome that can lead to developmental delays and cognitive issues. As scary as that diagnosis was for us, our son has shown us that our life is completely incredible — he attends school with his peers, plays sports, has a great belly laugh and is in so many ways a very typical kiddo. You can read more about Z-Man here.
Photographing for the National Down Syndrome Society
The National Down Syndrome Society was the first resource our family discovered in the days and weeks following Zachary’s birth and Down syndrome diagnosis. They are the leading human rights organization and host eye-opening events, provide non-stop resources and support and have created a community of self-advocates, ambassadors, family members and friends who believe in the importance of a fair future for all people with disabilities in employment, education, home, money and more.
Since 2015, Wendy has photographed events and special occasions for the National Down Syndrome Society across the country. She also serves as a DS-Ambassador for NDSS, reaching out to local politicians and sharing the messages and goals for people like her son.
Friendship by LiliZach
In 2018, Wendy joined her friend and fellow DS Momma, Diany, in creating a local non-profit organization, Friendship by Lili Zach, which will provide resources and support to new parents who receive a Down syndrome diagnosis. Fueled by our own birth and diagnosis stories, we want other families to receive things other than a feeling of overwhelmingness and fear — we want them to receive support, love, resources and a community of people who really “get it” and can’t wait to share how awesome the journey can be for them.
In 2019, Friendship by LiliZach began handing out its first bags filled with toys, books, goodies and information to families who have a child with Down syndrome born in and around Frederick County, Maryland.