Karen Gaffney – Portland, OR
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From the moment she was born, Karen Gaffney began an incredible journey that continues today. She is the President of a non-profit organization dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, the workplace and the community for people with developmental disabilities. She is doing this by creating awareness and calling attention to the tremendous capabilities of people with disabilities. Karen accomplishes this through presentations and workshops delivered all over the country. One of the workshops Karen presents is on the importance of physical fitness and how to set up a regular fitness plan. She has also started a program that she calls “The Friends First Network ™” in schools around the Portland area. She hopes to take this program nationwide. Karen graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon and earned a two-year Associates of Science degree from Portland Community College. She successfully swam the English Channel as part of a six-person relay team. And just last year, she accomplished her biggest swimming Challenge yet….she swam 9-miles across Lake Tahoe in 59-degree water to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Congress and to show the world that people with Down Syndrome are more alike, rather than different, from everyone else. Karen travels the country speaking to a wide range of audiences about overcoming limitations and about what can be accomplished with positive expectations. Karen tackles any challenge she faces with determination and commitment, knowing she has limits, but not allowing them to limit her drive to succeed. Oh, and by the way…. Karen Gaffney has Down syndrome.
Karen has presented across the United States and around the world including in the United Kingdom and in Singapore. Her most recent presentations were in Sacramento, CA with People First, Albany, NY at the Down Syndrome Aim High Resource center conference, as well as in Philadelphia, PA at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Karen’s primary presentation topics include speeches and workshops addressing overcoming limitations, “re-writing the data” concerning developmental disabilities, importance of friendships, transitioning, importance of physical fitness for people with disabilities, and leadership skills for self-advocates.
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