Trailblazers for Down Syndrome

Maria Dellapina Mother of Invention

Maria Dellapina Receiving her Toyota Mother of Invention Award

Last week, I attended the Women in the World event at the St. Anthony Hotel. It was a morning of inspirational stories told by women from all over the globe. These were powerful discussions of issues affecting women’s lives today. I was fortunate enough to meet one of these women who was being honored for her contribution to helping those with special needs.

Maria Dellapina, is the founder and inventor of Specs4Us, which is an eye frame line designed for children and adults with Down syndrome. The optician and single mother of four, designed and created the frames after failing to find anything to properly fit her daughter Erin. Since 2004, when Maria first came up with the idea,  Specs4Us has added 14 various frames and styles to the Erin’s World line.  They are also available in 28 countries around the globe.

We first heard about the product in our local DSA support group. We soon ordered our daughter Catherine two different frames when she was outgrowing her glasses. She was also having a hard time finding frames that fit her small nose bridge. We were more than pleased with the product and glad to support a parent of a the DS community.

As I watched Maria being awarded the Toyota Mother of Invention as her family looked on with pride, I couldn’t help but feel such a strong connection to someone that knows the unique challenges faced by being a parent of a child with special needs. I was amazed at how she not only raised her four children by herself, but ran a business that was in unchartered territory. She was a trail blazer and advocate for the Down syndrome community.

I got a chance to visit with Maria after her presentation and meet Erin and Maria’s oldest son, Anthony Spooner. He has gone on to teach special education.  He realizes the positive impact that Erin has had on his life and continues in helping his mother in her business as it continues to grow.  The $50,000 grant awarded by Toyota will partially be used to design new and trendy frames.

Later that evening, I turned on the television to watch the new A&E show, “Born this Way.” It’s a reality show based on seven young people making their way through adulthood. A camera follows them and films their adventures at work and as they socialize together at a community center.

The difference in this reality show is that they all happen to have Down syndrome.

And after watching the second episode last night, I am even more impressed.

A & E has shined the light on what it means to be a parent of a child with DS. It is such an honest and touching portrayal of the families and how they interact with one other. It naturally reveals how they are much like any other family.

After all the negative headlines in the news lately, it is so refreshing to see an hour of these amazing young people.

What an inspiring week filled with trailblazers! I know what I’ll be watching on Tuesday nights.

Thank you Maria Dellapina for your invention that allows kids and adults be able to see at their maximum potential while looking stylish.

We are so happy she was Born this Way .

We are so happy Catherine was Born this Way!

And thank you to A&E for airing this important docuseries. I am happy to hear it has already added two more episodes after its premier last week.

Aren’t we all BORN THIS WAY?


Stay Sassy Y’all. 








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