This is Margot’s Moment

As part of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we take a look inside the life of Margot and her daughter Hannah.
Margot holding Hannah at the playground.
“One of the incredible things about Hannah is that whenever you’re with her you’re with her.” – Margot.

Margot works at Special Olympics International as the Senior Director of Health Operations. While driven by the mission of the movement, she did not have a personal connection to the cause. That was until she was pregnant with her first child and found out she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Today, after serious medical complications, Margot’s daughter Hannah is healthy and brings so much joy to Margot’s family. Throughout this film, Margot reflects on the hopes and dreams she has for Hannah: to be included, to have best friends and to have a positive childhood.

The Moment Series - Margot Teaser

Watch a short section of Margot’s Moment. For the full version, check out the newly designed generationunified.org.

When Margot thinks about Hannah’s future, she thinks a lot about what Hannah’s educational experience will look like.

"I want her to be in a setting in which she’s learning academically and she’s included with her peers but they do it in a way that’s not charity. They do it in a way where she’s legitimately their friend.”
Margot Rhondeau

Through Margot’s work with Special Olympics, she has seen how positive school climates are formed through the programming of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®. The three component model of Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement, students with and without intellectual disabilities are playing, learning and living unified. This type of environment is exactly what Margot wants for Hannah as she grows up as part of the Unified Generation.

More About Margot's Story

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(3/4) “My maternity leave was spent bouncing between hospitals, therapists, and the insurance company. I still talk to a doctor every single day of every single week. My daughter has had five surgeries already—two on her heart. I have to fight so much. It took a month of phone calls with the insurance company just to get her a single shot that she needs to stay alive. I hear other parents say it’s going too quickly. But it’s not for me. We live in a different world. My kid doesn’t babble. Doesn’t eat food. Doesn’t crawl. My husband is lucky because he has no idea what the milestones are supposed to be. But I do. I know what a fifteen-month-old should be able to do. Every month I have a mom’s lunch with coworkers. They’re the most fantastic people in the world. But it’s so hard to hear them complain that their kids follow them around and eat everything. My daughter has a feeding tube and doesn’t move. Both my husband and I work full time. We’re so tired. It’s like a bucket that’s being drained from so many holes. But you know what? It’s better than the unknown. It’s better than I imagined it was going to be. Because I’m a parent now. And when you’re imagining all these things, it’s so hard to picture the love. She’s such a happy baby. She gets so proud of herself when she accomplishes something. She never wakes up crying. The one thing that comes easy to her in life is love and happiness.” (Special Olympics World Games, Abu Dhabi, UAE)

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(4/4) “Even within the Down Syndrome community, it can be hard to not compare. You’ve found a group of people going through the same thing as you. And suddenly there are gradations. I follow all these people on Instagram that are my age and have Down Syndrome babies. And it’s easy to feel jealous. There are so many differing abilities. Some kids are already walking by now. Then there are the people with Down Syndrome who are revered. Some have testified before Congress. Some are models, and gymnasts, and mothers. And that represents hope for a lot of people. But that’s also not the reality for a lot of people. And that hope can be devastating. What if your kid can’t do those things? What if your kid can’t do Special Olympics? But I’m optimistic by nature. And the only thing I truly need is that she’ll have people who love her. And I mean people who aren’t blood. I want her to be included and have friends and have a community. I want people to say ‘hi,’ and sit with her, and include her. If no boy asks her to prom, I’m going to be devastated. Because I imagine my own life without friends or social connections and it’s so sad. I can’t watch her go through that. And the hardest thing is that these are things I can’t control. All of these experiences are so dependent on other people. I’ll never be able to control how other people see her.” (Special Olympics World Games, Abu Dhabi, UAE)

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Three million young people participate in 6,500 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® across the US with support from the US Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education. These young people make up the Unified Generation. They are taking personal ownership within their schools and communities to ensure that everyone has the right to play, learn and live together through shared leadership opportunities of students with and without intellectual disabilities. To learn more about the Unified Generation, visit: https://www.generationunified.org/

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