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Angela O'Brien

Angela O’Brien, Lewisville mother of two (Danny, age 9, and Casey Jane, age 7), speaks about the fear and uncertainty surrounding the first moments of daughter Casey Jane’s life when she found out her baby girl had Down syndrome. It was a curveball she wasn’t ready for. She admits, “I didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome [at that time] … I was scared … it rocked my world.” But little did she know that the life of her darling girl would bring more joy than she or her family could ever imagine …

Fast forward seven years later: Kindergartener Casey Jane is all smiles at Castle Hills Elementary School. Scared feelings no longer dominate and are instead replaced with a newfound enthusiasm and pride. “Women I’ve never met before will come up and ask me if I’m Casey Jane’s mom and tell me that their son is a better person because of her or their daughter just loves her and talks about her all the time.”

With both kids now attending Castle Hills, the stay-at-home mom spends time volunteering as a board member at the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas. “I can’t say enough good things about the Guild. Families with children who have Down syndrome need someplace to go for resources and connection. I get so much out of my work with them.” Just last November the active mom and avid runner served as captain of her Buddy Walk team. She, along with her teammates, raised roughly $12,000 benefiting the Guild’s many programs and services—several of which minister to new parents, providing them with valuable information on child care, government assistance, area activities and more.

When O’Brien isn’t lending her hand through volunteer work or trekking through the community with her running group, she and husband Michael love spending time with Danny and Casey Jane. The caring couple also make time for each other.

And during those times when life catches her off guard, just like everyone else, she has to deal with it and hopefully—laugh about it later. O’Brien recalls such an instance: “Casey Jane likes routine. The other morning she wouldn’t get out of the car because I wasn’t in the front of the drop-off line like usual. She has a sassy side and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants!”

The elation Casey Jane brings to O’Brien is evidenced by more tears welling up in her eyes. “When she was born, people would tell Michael and me that they were sorry, and although they’re just speaking from a limited experience with Down syndrome, I want to educate them … tell them what a joy and blessing she’s been. [That in fact,] I’m not sorry!” What started out with fearful uncertainty years ago has evolved into a rich life of growth and gratitude for even the simplest circumstances. “The other day in the car, Casey Jane turned to me and out of the blue said, ‘I’m happy.’ It just doesn’t get much better than that.”