If you’ve been to a DSC event in the last couple of years, you probably saw the Gehrke Family. They will be returning to help out at this year’s DSC Holiday Party, so we thought it would be fun to get to know them a little better.
How did you starting volunteering for the DSC? Our family volunteered with Special Olympics for years and worked with a couple of teams that had people with Down syndrome on them. These were our favorite teams to work with. We had such a great time with them! I looked for other opportunities to work/volunteer for organizations with people with Ds. Something that has stuck with me for years is from one day in high school. I was walking down the hall and a girl with Down syndrome came up to me and gave me hug. Kids in high school don’t like anyone, but I loved that. I think that started my interest in working with people with Ds.
How long ago did you start volunteering for DSC? About two and a half years ago. We’ve helped with all of the events a few times now – Sweetheart Dance, Holiday Party, Spring Fling & Talent Show, Megarama Day, Fashion Show, Buddy Walk (Did you notice the new fishing booth at the Buddy Walk? The Gehrke’s built and donated that!). The group that we bring continues to grow. Eric and I have volunteered with our kids – ages 25, 23, 23, 19 & 17. Now our kids have started bringing their friends and their families. We all have a great time!
Why do you like volunteering for the DSC? We love how real people with Ds are. There is a real genuineness there. We also love being able to take care of things for the party so the board of directors and parents can enjoy the party with their families and not be “working the event” – that makes my family and I feel good. I have also learned a lot about patience from watching the parents of kids with Down syndrome. I am always so on the go, getting things done quickly and moving really fast. I see these parents relax and take the time to explain things to their kids and just slow down. I am trying to incorporate that in my own life.
What is your favorite DSC event? The Talent Show because of all the family interactions and support. I love watching the brothers and sisters of people with Ds and how much they care about their siblings. And I love how everyone is dancing!
Anything else you would like to share with our community? We are looking forward to the DSC Holiday Party on December 16th! Our girls will be setting up a cookie decorating station which should be lots of fun. It was their idea in order to engage more with the kids and families that attend. They really enjoy spending time with the DSC community! Eric will also be Santa and we can’t wait to help him give away the gifts (make sure to bring a wrapped gift with your child’s name on it if you want Santa to pass out a gift for them!), We have tons of bells for him to make his grand entrance. We can’t wait!
When you see the Gehrke Family at the Holiday Party, please let them know how much they are appreciated. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful group of volunteers who really love our community!