Community / Giving Back

The Docal Family: Celebrate the Special Photo Sessions with Wendy Zook Photography

This year was the first time I offered complimentary photo sessions for families with children with special needs. The blending together of my advocacy for the National Down Syndrome Society and special needs with my passion for photography is so important to me. I have a gift that I can give to people I can scream “I get it!” to and that, to me, is really a huge blessing.

My Celebrate the Special photo sessions for families with children with special needs offer a donation to the National Down Syndrome Society but no payment whatsoever to me. The sessions are unique in that we find a location that is safe and most comfortable for your child and family -- whether that’s your backyard or a state park or somewhere in between. We also take our time and use things that will keep everyone happy.

One of my first families to reach out to me about a Celebrate the Special photo session is the Docal family. I first heard from the eldest sister, Maria, who heard about the photo sessions from a nearby cousin. Maria’s first email shared how much her younger brother, Ory, 11, impacted her life.

“My brother has changed my world and my family's world for the better,” she said.

We set up a family photo session for her, her brother, two sisters and her parents at their home with a gorgeous and large backyard this summer. Meeting them all was like feeling like you were already part of the family. There were hugs and questions and just total kindness.

Ory reminded me so much of my son -- and not just because they both have Down syndrome -- because of their smiles and love of family and sports and sweet cuddly personality. Photographing him and his family was such a joy.

Ory’s mom told me before we started that they haven’t been able to do a family photo of all of the siblings together since Ory was born. I cannot tell you what happiness it brought me that I could give her that long-awaited gift of memories and family.

Enjoy these peeks into an incredible family.
For more information on Celebrate the Special photo sessions, go HERE.

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Caring with Congress 2019 {A Washington, DC Event with the National Down Syndrome Society}

The National Down Syndrome Society and Down syndrome awareness in general are so important to me. NDSS was the first contact we had while doing scary research in those first days after our son Zachary was postnatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Since those first overwhelming days and weeks, they’ve been a constant source of support, encouragement and advice. In recent years, I’ve had the most incredible honor of being a photographer for many of NDSS’s special events. I’ve traveled to New York City and New Orleans and a handful of places in between, but some of my favorite memories with NDSS are events right in our backyard of Washington, DC.

Caring with Congress is an event aimed at celebrating the members of Congress who have fought for and supported bills and important laws regarding people with Down syndrome and all disabilities. Every day, NDSS fights for rights regarding education, employment, health and even marriage and many members of Congress help make those fights just a little easier and a lot more likely to happen.

This was the 15th Caring with Congress event and all funds raised went towards NDSS’s Research Innovation & Discovery Fund that supports research and clinical infrastructure needs for the Down syndrome scientific and research community.

In between speeches and presentations from members of the US government and DC officials were beautiful moments between the hard-working staff at NDSS and the many self-advocates (individuals with Down syndrome who advocate on their own behalf) who were assisting at the event with serving and greeting.

These are the people that make big changes happen and big dreams come true and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them and celebrate them. Because of them, the future for my son changes every single day.

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