Owatonna’s Abby Donahe Delivers Powerful Message to Med School Students
Abby Donahe of Owatonna is like most 18-21 year-olds. She went to school, has friends, dances, plays sports, went to prom, has a boyfriend and works a job. Abby also has Down syndrome. For the third year, she presented a 25-minute long speech to the incoming medical school class at the University of Minnesota on how she is more alike than different.
The university professor opened the August presentation with some background information on Down syndrome to the class of about 175 first-year medical school students. Abby followed that up with her Power Point entitled, "More Alike Than Different." She told the students about her life from being a baby through high school, emphasizing how she was more alike than different from other children.
Abby told about all the activities she was involved in, including dance classes at Jill Hoggard Academy of Dance, playing the piano, riding a horse, being on the student council and holding down a job at Fareway Foods. She also played soccer and basketball and swam and bowled. Abby has been active in Special Olympics over the years.
Abby said the main differences had to do with education, with time in the special education room to help her learn better, in addition to speech, occupational and gross motor therapy to deal with her condition. She spoke of how her parents advocated for her to be sure she was included in school events and got the medical care she needed.
Looking to her future, now that she has graduated from Owatonna High School, she will attend a program in Faribault designed to help with life and work skills. She looks forward to moving out of her mom's house and getting married someday.
She concluded her talk to the future doctors by encouraging them to avoid a negative message to expectant parents where the baby has Down syndrome. She says there will be medical issues and additional work will be necessary, but that child can still do great things and spread joy to those around them, and that they will be more alike than different.