Still think I'm crazy?
Ashley Deramus has a story that took me down that familiar path today. Born with Down Syndrome, I'm sure that there was a rather long list of things that her parents were told she wouldn't be able to do. Luckily for all of us, they didn't focus on the list of "can't" - they encouraged Ashley to follow her dreams. She loves to swim so she started competing in the Special Olympics at age 11 and won over 40 medals. And that was just the beginning!
Now, nearly 20 years later, she is still following those dreams and they're much bigger at 30 than they were at 11. In order to help others with Downs achieve their dreams and live life to the fullest, she founded The Ashley DeRamus Foundation. Dedicated to the education, advancement and quality life-style of children and adults with Downs Syndrome, it is a passion for the entire DeRamus family.
Ashley likes clothes and looking good, so the young fashionista and her mom, Connie, created their own clothing line so ladies with Down Syndrome can look great in comfort. "Ashley by Design" debuted at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Denver this past July.
She loves to listen to music and to sing, so she goes to as many gospel concerts as she can and she sings all of the time. She's shared the stage with The Crabb Family (watch the video) and says that they're one of her favorite groups. It turns out that Jason Crabb is as big a fan of Ashley's as she is of him; he asked Ashley to be in the music video for "Love Is Stronger," which will premier on September 30 on USAtoday.com.
Another love is her country. One of her goals is to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem on as many stages and as many different venues as possible and she's already been able to check quite a few places off of her list. She has said the pledge at places like the Wake Up America Rally in California and the Birmingham Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports. On September 11th, she sang the National Anthem on the main stage at the National Quartet Convention in front of thousands with The Dixie Melody Boys.
It's no small wonder that Ashley Deramus was honored by Disney as one of the six most inspirational entrepreneurs with Down Syndrome in the world earlier this year. This is a lady that inspires everyone she meets (and even those of us who just hear her incredible story and start out feeling a little small).
Ashley Singing the National Anthem at NQC 2013