This Woman With Down Syndrome Delivers 'Baskets of Hope' to Other New Down Syndrome Families
Brittany Schavione has one main objective: to show that people with Down syndrome can do absolutely anything.
A child diagnosed with a disability is a life-changing event for the entire family. Parents might feel panic, fear, and uncertainty of where to turn or what to do. When Brittany Schiavone, who has Down syndrome herself, saw a YouTube video about helping babies with Down syndrome, she decided to start a nonprofit organization called Brittany's Baskets of Hope, in order to provide some hope to families welcoming new babies with Down syndrome into their lives.
“I was inspired,” says Schavione. “I came home and told my parents about it, and I wanted to do it so badly because my heart wanted it. I felt it in my heart and knew I was making the right decision. I know there are lots of babies with Down syndrome out there in the world and I want them and their families to have hope.”
She sent the first basket of hope in October 2016. Since its inception, the organization has sent over 1,000 baskets to families in all 50 states. Everything is tailored for each specific baby, with clothes in their size and personal touches related to their families or any health concerns they may be going through. The items in the basket include everything from resources and hand-knit blankets to children’s books and a onesie that says “Down Right Perfect”—all of which she keeps in the office space in her family’s basement.
“Each month, we pack new baskets at what we call ‘packing parties,’” says Schavione. “It’s usually me, my parents, sometimes my cousins and brothers, and my friend Ashley. We read the stories of each of the babies from their request form, and then we pack each basket specially for that family. I love packing parties and knowing that Ashley and my family are right there with me.”
Her impressive accomplishments and altruistic drive has sparked a lot of inspiration worldwide. She was recently selected as August 2020’s GoFundMe Hero and was chosen as one of Loreal Paris’ Women of Worth last year.
Although the baskets have been mailed out since the pandemic, Brittany would previously hand-deliver some of the baskets to families who lived nearby on Long Island.
“I love getting photos of the babies who have received a basket. A lot of the moms and dads send us cute pictures of their children surrounded by their basket of hope. When we visit local families to deliver a basket, I love to hold the baby. The parents tell me, 'Brittany, you are a good role model!'"
Brittany says that the hope she provides families makes her the most proud. “Sending hope to these families is so important because, often, when babies with Down syndrome are born, people will say, 'I’m sorry,' to the parents when they hear the news,” says Schavione. “At Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, we don’t say ‘I’m sorry.’ We say congratulations! I want these parents to see that their child will grow up to live a full life with their own purpose, just like me.”