Saturday, March 19, 2016

She Inspired Those With Down Syndrome As Unstoppable

By Theresa Vargas


Laura Lee took pride in her résumé. On it, separated by bold lettering and bullet points, she listed one achievement after another: She graduated from George Mason University. She worked at the World Bank. She volunteered at a food bank. She spoke at national conventions.

Not mentioned: She was born with Down syndrome.

For the 400,000 Americans like her who are often characterized by their limitations, Lee changed what they and their families viewed as possible. She was the first person with Down syndrome many people saw participate on panels. Or go to college. Or work in a professional setting. At the World Bank, where she was an office assistant earning $12.24 an hour, her name was on her office door. If the cruelest part of Down syndrome comes from the walls it erects, the ultimate joy for many people in the intellectual-disabilities community came in watching Lee leap over those walls, time and again. In many ways, she seemed unstoppable — until she wasn’t.

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