Today, a guest blog by Denise ZarrellaWhen it comes to inspiration for my children's book Not Even the Sky is the Limit!, there is no doubt that my daughter Gianna was the spark that ignited my passion for this project. My book showcases the abilities of children and adults with Down Syndrome. Since the moment my husband and I found out that we were going to have a child with Down Syndrome, we began to see the world in a whole new way. We began to think about every person we knew who had a child with Downs. We imagined what our life together would be like; and above all, we wanted to know that we could look forward to a life that would be full of love, laughter and all the things everyone else enjoys doing as a family.
My reason for writing this book, geared for toddlers, goes even deeper than that, though. I spent a lot of time on the computer "Googling," Down Syndrome. I was shocked to see how many parents, who found out that they were going to have a child with Downs, decided to terminate their pregnancy. The parents, siblings and close friends of people with Down Syndrome that I've connected with admit there are some challenges to having a special needs child, but none of them could imagine a world without their son, daughter, brother or sister. They don't want to.
Not Even the Sky is the Limit! is modeled after my kid's favorite book when they were toddlers. It was called the ABC for You and Me Book. It went through every letter of the alphabet and had a child with Down Syndrome demonstrating a word for each of those letters. My kids loved this book so much we are missing the "Q is for quilt," page! My kids loved the pictures of the other kids, and I realized I loved how happy and well adjusted all the children in the book appeared to be. The book put me at ease and got me excited about our family's future.
Since day one, I have enjoyed talking to parents of children with Down Syndrome and learning about what their kids love to do. I've heard stories of lead singers with Down Syndrome, weight lifters, actors and actresses, the list goes on and on. Every time I hear one of these stories, I think the reporter in me feels the need to document it, and the mother in me wants to publicize what I've heard and seen, because I believe a lot of people are unaware of all the cool things people with disabilities are doing.
One day, I shared one of these many stories with my husband, Tony. I said, "I just wish there was a book with all of these stories of what people with Down Syndrome are out there doing in it so I could look at it whenever I feel discouraged or worried." He just looked at me very matter of factly and said, "Why don't you do it?" I stopped for a second and then said, "I think I will." A little over a year later, Not Even the Sky is the Limit! was published. My husband cried when he saw the book for the first time. It was one of our most emotional moments in our relationship, ever. Tony calls this book, "your love letter to Gianna," and he's right.
As someone who has written for television for years, I really always thought my first book would be something like The World According to Garp, but clearly God had other plans for me. Gianna was born, and Not Even the Sky is the Limit! would bring me to one of the most satisfying and rewarding milestones of my life.
If one person is enlightened by reading this book to one of their children, or a child is able to see the world through more accepting eyes as a result of turning the pages, then my mission is accomplished. My biggest hope yet: that someone will see this book and decide to move forward with their life and their child, a child they will know with Down Syndrome.