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June 20, 2011

What’s Your Story?

In April, I had the pleasure of meeting Becky Palmer, a young military spouse who won a "Year of Care" from at an Operation Shower event attended by the First Lady Michelle Obama. Operation Shower is an organization that celebrates and honors military families by throwing baby showers to expecting moms. Becky told me how her husband Joseph lost his leg in Afghanistan last year when her first child was not yet two.  When I met her in her last trimester of her second pregnancy, she spoke, like any young mother, with excitement and hope about her growing family. I found myself with tears in my eyes.

Becky's story is one among many I hear every day, whether I'm in a business meeting, traveling on a plane, or meeting a mother at the grocery store.  Personal stories of how people are working, raising children, dealing with economic or physical hardships are what ground me, inspire me, and make me aware of how what we’re doing at impacts lives. 

At our Care@Work conference, I had the chance to meet Jake Barton, whose company, Local Projects, is the lead designer for the 9/11 Memorial Museum.  Jake is in the business of storytelling, using personal narratives to bring static museums to life.

Jake stands at the forefront of the shift in museum presentation.  You might recall museums as full of boring dioramas and static images. If, however, you've spent time in a museum recently, you've probably found yourself more engaged.  It's likely that you've listened to a personal oral history.  Museum staff may even have encouraged you to share your own experience.  Maybe you've wondered why.

It's because stories have power.  They preserve history.  They entertain us.  And they even put our children to sleep. Stories can also start companies. began with my story as a young mother struggling to find care for my aging father and two sons. As I continued to share my story, I realized that many were in the same position and was inspired to found this company. My story is at the heart of 

I also know that every person who has visited has their own story:

  • A father balancing care for an elderly parent and his kids
  • New parents, who are just discovering the joys of their first born
  • A daughter who has come home from spending time with dad and realizes that he is going to need more help
  • Parents of a child with cerebral palsy, who are looking for a caregiver who “gets it”

We want to hear your story and give you a platform to tell it right on!

Send us your story in 500 or fewer words, and you'll be entered to win an opportunity as a guest blogger on for one month!  

To enter, tell us about yourself including things like your family, your care strategy (are you a care provider or a family needing care?), the highs and lows of a typical day, and your approach to getting through daily hurdles. Also include some examples of blog topics you would enjoy writing. E-mail your story to carestory@​ by 7:00 am EST on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Our panel of judges will select one entry to be a guest blogger on Please read our Official Contest Rules.

The winner will also receive $250 and a one-year membership to

We look forward to hearing from you!


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Donna Faulkner

My daughter and I were standing in the yard and she invited me to go shopping; I said not. I had been in pain for about a year. I finally went to a back specialist and found out I had terminal cancer and needed surgery. I lost a kidney, almost died due to surgeons slip of the knife and had long recovery and needed chemo. I was very ill. In the beginning my daughter was very supportive; my husband was elusive. In the end what I heard was quit smoking, think of your family, buck up, get on with life, find a job, and move on. I was left to to deal with my second cancer alone no understanding or empathy. I dealt with the "quit" smoking after 40 years alone. I did get a job after working in the home after 30 years. I ended up getting cancer again and having a heart attack and dealing with these alone as well as a divorce after 35 years and having my granddaughter being taken away from me who I cared for for 8 years and supported.

John Leslie

Our Story

In April of 2004 I received a call from our Doctor informing me that there was a good chance that our son would have trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome. I remember I was in my car at the time and immediately tears started streaming from my eyes yet I was not visibly crying. My first thought, God why? As a Christian I had given my life to Jesus and considered the advantage that that would be to me. Safety, peace and knowing His love. So not doubting God’s love for me yet I just kept saying why.

Over the next few weeks while listening to my favorite music by Bach or other Choral Masters I would immediately just lose it. Really crying now. In the car, at home or anywhere. Sunglasses were now mandatory.

I also started praying all the time. Why God??? was still the prayer. I know the bible tells us all things work together for good yet… I remember in school as a child there was a child with Down Syndrome. That was some 40 years ago and he was very bad off. He Had seizures in school and everyone mocked him. This is how I pictured my sons life to be. Also I remember going to the store and seeing other families with a child with Down Syndrome, what is wrong with those parents I would think.

A wonderful thing happened in prayer one day. God actually spoke to me. He said as clear as day, “this is My perfect will for you John”. Immediately a peace came over me and I was able to embrace my future. I told my wife and my wife and I knew that it would be okay.

Noah, our first child, was born on 08-10-2004. There was such a joy in the hospital room. I knew angels were there singing. I took a picture of my wife’s face and it was truly a picture that spoke a thousand words. She was glowing and had a big smile that light up the room. Dr. Cross, yes that is her real name, put little Noah on the scale and the digital display beamed a big 7.0 lbs. God’s number of perfection. I laughed as I read it and said oh Jesus you are so good.

Noah is the most precious loving boy I have ever known. He is always happy. Always giving joy to others. He is 6 now and just today told me that I needed to put my seatbelt on. He also walked up to me and hugged me and said, “thank you dad Mc Donalds”. I never notice if anyone stares or notices my son since to me he is flawless.

Another surprise happened in early 2007. My wife was pregnant again and this time we were all happy thinking that when my wife and I are no longer here there will be a sibling to take care of Noah. YEA! Not so fast though as I received the same familiar call from Dr. Cross. Guess what another baby with Down Syndrome. We already knew her name would be Genev’e which means to” gush forth”. How could we not be overcome with overflowing joy at the news. When Genev’e was born they put her on the scale guess how much child number two weighed? She weighed 7.7 Lbs. God makes no mistakes.

I see my children in the light of the love of Jesus for me and now Noah and Genev’e are a daily reminder of His ways not being my ways. How wonderful is that.

My wife also loves Jesus and was diagnosed with M.S. a few years back. If you were to meet her you would say she is an angel. Why. She never complains. She just retains that beautiful glow. Its never left her face.

Visit our website at also our Facebook page “San Diego Down Syndrome” and twitter page” SandiegoDownSyn” . YouTube “Genev’e” to see a video of us too!


I am sorry to hear you have had so much turmoil in your life, but obviously you are a strong surviver! Please know, you are only as alone in life as you want to be. First of all, God is ALWAYS there, and secondly, there is always someone willing to listen or help. It may not be the first person you ask or the second, but trust me, eventually you will find someone who is willing. There is a quote something like...."Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward!" I myself have several medical conditions that are very painful and limit my ability to live a normal life. My day starts with severe pain and sickness...I go through a stage of "I don't want to live like this anymore"...but I just stay strong and positive ...and soon the feeling passes ...or at least subsides for awhile. I too have lost several friends due to my chronic pain. Unfortunately it is hard for people to be supportive for long periods of time. People were great in the beginning but eventually they got discouraged with my constant cancellations and days of ill-feeling. So try not to be too hard on your family, it is normal behavior honest. They don't realize how much they are hurting you. Try to forgive them and try to keep connecting with them. While you are waiting for them to come around, try to put your energy into things that help others. When you do this, somehow your problems will seem less overwhelming. Good luck with everything, let me know if I can help.

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