“Each year the convention seems to get better and better. We come away feeling refreshed and energized. Getting ideas and confirmation that things are going to be ok!”
Larry and Karen Kaser welcomed their daughter Kelly to the world in May of 1984. It was shortly thereafter, a family friend introduced them to NDSC. It wasn’t long before Larry and Karen were involved in helping to form their local Down syndrome support group, The Down Syndrome Support Association of Central Indiana, and later, the Dallas Guild in 1985. “Prior to the internet, Larry and I relied on our local parent group, the NDSC office, and the convention as our sources of information in raising Kelly,” shared Karen.
Since the year Kelly was born, the Kasers have attended almost 30 NDSC Conventions. Early on in their journey with Down syndrome, Larry and Karen admit to being overwhelmed, in a positive way, by the amount of valuable information shared at the convention and the wonderful parents they met. Over the years, though, those acquaintances have become like family for the Kasers. “The opportunity of meeting up with old friends and making new acquaintances is fantastic! The convention is now like a very large family reunion for us. Larry and I also look forward to meeting up with our friends and just a time to be able to educate ourselves.”
There is so much to look forward to at the convention, not only for the parents, but the self-advocates too. “Kelly looks forward every year to attending the Youth and Adult program, including workshops, dancing, meeting friends, socializing, and of course, the talent show!” For Larry and Karen, they also look at the convention as a way to share their journey with new parents. “We enjoy sharing information about Kelly’s life and learning about other families’ life experiences too. Larry and I feel we are never too old to learn something new,” said Karen.
The Kaser family, in a sense, has grown up NDSC. In addition to attending the annual convention, both Larry and Karen have served on the board of directors. “Over the years, we helped with NDSC fundraisers, Mom’s Only sharing sessions, Father’s Only sharing sessions, the First Time Attendees Workshop, as well as the Brothers and Sisters, Youth and Adult, and Affiliate workshops,” they recalled. Kelly’s siblings and relatives have also been impacted. “Our extended family has benefited by us being active in NDSC,” said Larry. “Our older children have received information from participating in the Brothers and Sisters program. In fact, our daughter Kim founded a Brothers and Sisters group in Indiana.”
Now 32, Kelly is “a very caring young lady who enjoys making new friends and sharing with her community.” Kelly loves spending time with her family and friends. She currently works as a hostess at Scotty’s Brewhouse, after spending 10 years with Starbucks. When she is not working, Kelly enjoys volunteering in her community, karaoke, athletics (cycling, yoga, muscle up, Zumba, and cardio dance), bowling and flowriding. She also participates in a performance group called the Roundabout Playback Troupe and attends events at the White River Christian Church and Easter Seals Crossroads. “Kelly loves seeing old friends and making new ones,” shared Karen and Larry.
When the Kasers were asked if there was anything additional they wanted to share for this blog post, they added, “Having been involved with NDSC for so many years, we have seen it grow into a wonderful FAMILY organization! We thank the NDSC office for organizing the convention so families can get together each and every year!”
Don’t worry if you aren’t attending this year’s convention in Orlando. There’s always another one next year! We hope to see you soon at one of our Giant Family Reunions!