• Children's Center

    In the Loop: Celebrating and congratulating with Jack’s Baskets

In the Loop patient Gillian Kunkel with two Jack's Baskets gift baskets

Nicole Kunkel delivers more than just gift baskets to families who have a child with Down syndrome. Her goal is to also give them a sense of hope and community.

Gillian Kunkel has a big heart and a broad smile. She is a hard worker, a good friend and a loving big sister. Like any child, she has her bad days, too. But her life, like her sister's, is a gift. "I feel like I won the lottery because Gillian's so great and such a wonderful addition to our family," her mom, Nicole Kunkel, says.

But Kunkel didn't feel like a lottery winner when she was told her daughter would be born with Down syndrome. That's because the diagnosis was delivered with more "I'm sorry" than "Congratulations." That's not uncommon, Kunkel tells us. And she and other parents of children who have Down syndrome are trying to change that. "We want to change the diagnosis experience," Kunkel says. For many parents, the memory is a painful one, but it doesn't have to be. The news may be unexpected, but it's not bad. Far from it, Kunkel says. "Our daughter is exactly what our family needed."

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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.