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Helping NWDSA: Creativity and fundraising go hand in hand

By Abby Braithwaite

Do you ever wonder what you could do to make a difference for the NWDSA? Let me tell you about a family who wondered just that, and stepped up to make amazing things happen.

In the fall of 2009, Bill Fallis, beloved grandpa of Riley and an avid golfer, died unexpectedly. His family decided that they wanted to pay tribute to his life, and his love for Riley, and so the Tee Up for Down Syndrome Golf Tournament was born. For two years in a row Melanie Fallis, together with her daughter Jennifer Johnson (Riley’s mom) worked tirelessly to build a wonderful event. They brought together friends, co-workers, and a host of local businesses and were able to raise critical funds that provided the seed money for NWDSA’s innovative Kindergarten Inclusion Cohort. Thanks to their work and commitment to inclusion we were able help two dozen families become strong advocates for their children entering school. We are forever grateful to the Fallis and Johnson families for their energy effort and creativity, and it was impressive to watch this motivated group of people bring their web of support together to support the NWDSA and the Kindergarten Cohort. Their work was a clear illustration of the concept that a few committed people can, if fact, change the world.

Unfortunately Melanie and Jennifer need to step away from the tournament this year to focus on urgent needs in their family. If you have participated in the past as a golfer, a sponsor or a cohort member and would like to send a testimony or a thank you, please feel free to mail something to the NWDSA and we will pass it on to Melanie and Jennifer. You can email abraithwaite@nwdsa.org or mail to PO Box 9127, Portland, OR OR 97207.

The NWDSA is looking for ways to fill the hole that this will leave in our funding for next year’s cohort. We will be hosting a meeting here at the Resourcefulness Center on Monday, April 16th, for anyone who wants to get more involved in this vital area of work. If you have ideas or connections that you would like to share, we would like to hear them! If you are worried that you don’t have the experience or expertise necessary to put something together, let me share a little secret with you – Melanie Fallis is not a golfer, and she had never created an event like this before. But she was passionate about supporting inclusion, wanted to honor her husband in a way that would have mattered to him, and worked within her network of friends and family to pull off an incredible event. You could do the same thing! Please feel free to call 503-238-0522 for more information.