Please meet a remarkable young lady named Karen Gaffney. An accomplished public speaker and dedicated athlete, Karen has never been one to be swayed by the doubts of others. On the contrary, those "nay sayers" have provided Karen with a lifetime of motivation. No matter how large the challenge, Karen has shown the tenacity and presence to succeed with grace.
Now Karen has a new goal, to swim the English Channel!
Did I mention that Karen has Down syndrome? While some may believe that this condition would make her dependent upon others, they would be quite wrong! Raised in a Portland family that nurtured her fight against a life of dependence, Karen has attacked the challenges of everyday life in the same manner that she now confronts her newest goal. She graduated from St. Mary's Academy in 1997 and graduated from Portland Community College with an Associates of Science and a teacher's aide certificate Winter quarter 2001. And now, Karen is reaching back to help others in her same situation. She speaks to national audiences about overcoming the challenges of Down syndrome and the impact of early intervention and full inclusion in schools for young children with Down syndrome.
So why would Karen choose to swim the English Channel?
To support the work of the Karen Gaffney Foundation. This is an organization, started by Karen along with a professor from Portland State University and others here in Portland, that is dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion for people with disabilities. Many young families around the country have become dependent on Karen, her messages, and the first video tape produced by the Karen Gaffney Foundation, to help them on the journey to full inclusion for their child.
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