By: Liz Plachta – Co-founder of Ruby’s Rainbow
“Together we can do so much.”
That should be the Ruby’s Rainbow mantra. In fact, in thank you’s, Facebook post and everything in between I have many times used the quote from Helen Keller “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” I believe this with every fiber of my being…and have seen it first hand in our organization. Let me back up a little…
My daughter Ruby was born unexpectedly with Down syndrome in 2010. Like many other families receiving the news, the hubby and I were not exactly sure what to expect or what the future would hold. Do we ever though??
One thing we knew for sure: we were dedicated to giving her all the right opportunities to be the best lil’ version of herself she could be. I knew, the first time I held her, I knew that the light inside her was so bright, the spirit inside her was so strong. I knew she was capable of anything. I didn’t know it yet, but this was the day that Ruby’s Rainbow was born as well. This was the day the fire was ignited in me to want to do something extraordinary to help people like my sweet Ruby achieve greatness.I wanted to help but didn’t know how or what to do. When Ruby was about six months old I started researching programs and support for individuals with Down syndrome. I found there was lots of early intervention programs and things for younger kiddos and adults, but once they graduated high school these opportunities and support dropped off dramatically. Then what? What were these individuals doing? Another mantra of Ruby’s Rainbow? “Life and learning don’t stop after high school.” What did the future for my daughter look like? I wanted so desperately for her to have all the wonderful life experiences and opportunities as any other person, disability or not. This face deserves all of these things and more…don’t you agree?
From the desire to help her obtain these experiences and be the best she can be came Ruby’s Rainbow. Some people thought I was crazy. You want to do what? I want to grant college scholarships to adults with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome go to college? I’m not sure, but if they do I am gonna find em and help em. You see, at this point I didn’t even know if this was something they were capable of. My daughter was not even a year old…but with every day that passed, I would see her determination, feel that spirit of hers…it was like she was whispering in my ear every day “Do it mommy. Just do it. I am capable, I am worthy, I’ll show you and the world.”
So I did it
. Let me get something straight here: I had
no idea what I was doing. Do we ever though??
I had no idea if we would find any applicants, raise any money, or even get this thing off the ground. But that sweet lil’ spirit just kept chirpin’ in my ear. It took a few months for me to research starting a non-profit…and then many more months to file everything with the government….and then one day…it was like unwrapping the coolest freakin’ gift in the world…we were ready to Rock and Roll.
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” Helen Keller
This is where my favorite quote from good ol’ Helen comes along. I couldn’t have done this without my peeps. Scholarships to 42 amazing individuals ‘Rockin’ that Extra Chromosome’ nationwide, totaling in 100k in just three years and counting….all because of my peeps. Because my peeps believe in my sweet Ruby and those “Rockin’ that extra chromosome” just like her.
The first year we were gonna be
happy with just ONE $2000 scholarship. Well guess what? That wasn’t good enough for my peeps. Together we granted ELEVEN scholarships nationwide our first year!
I had peeps poppin’ out of the woodworks wanting to help. Need help with your website? Done. Need us to throw a golf tourney with Ruby’s Rainbow as the beneficiaries? Done. (Thank you my hard workin’ Maudie’s Crew…ya’ll were the first $$ we ever raised!)
(Ruby’s Rockin’ RainBOWL is our biggest local event of the year. Peeps come out and bowl, listen to live music and have some fun.)
Need over 300 of your peeps to show up for a bowling event to raise scholarship funds? Done.
Need a group of peeps that totally donate their time, hearts and energy? Done.
(My “Dream Team” of volunteer peeps)
(Silly board members. To date, Ruby’s Rainbow is 100% volunteer run. Lots of heart in our board room )
Want a super-sonic blogger/author to share in your passion for helping individuals with Down syndrome achieve their dreams of college, be a much louder voice for you and help you raise almost as much funds in two weeks then you have in three years? Done.
(Me, Kelle Hampton, Rockin’ Recipients Ali and Zach at WCU)
And I must add: The 123k raised in the two weeks was mostly in $21 increments from over 5000 “3/21 Pledgers.” Every little bit matters…don’t ever think it doesn’t’! We have built this organization on “every little bit!” Thank you Kelle Hampton for being the much louder voice we needed to reach more people, bring inspiration and hope to more families, and raise more scholarship funds!I have learned many immeasurable things since Ruby’s birth. My eyes are wide open to all that this beautiful world has in store….but one thing I know for sure. You can make a difference in the world. WE can make an even bigger difference in the world together.
“A lone peep can do so little; together peeps can do so much”-
Liz Plachta, Ruby’s Rainbow
Let’s be “together peeps”…shall we??Thank you to all my peeps for believing in me… and more importantly believing in the futures and capabilities of people ‘Rockin’ It’ just like our sweet Ruby Doobs. I am forever grateful for each and every one of you.
Love, Liz & Ruby Doobs