Success Stories

Submit Your Success Story

We want to hear about your employment or entrepreneurial success story! NDSS is featuring stories from across the country from the perspective of employees and entrepreneurs with Down syndrome. Please complete the form below and submit a picture of a self-advocate in action! 

Submit Your Success Story

Kei’Arie Tatum headshot

Kei’Arie Tatum

Kei’Arie “Angel Baby” Tatum has been working since the age of 3yrs old. Kei’Arie has been included into the entertainment industry as a phenomenal actress & model. Years of working is this field and upon completion of Kei’Arie’s amazing years of school, getting straight A’s, she graduated becoming a Boutique owner of Angel Babies Boutique. Kei’Arie enjoys helping others, spreading more love, awareness and inclusion for all Angel Babies (Special needs) in the world. She has gained the love, hearts and support of many and hopes to continue her liberating journey in respecting and caring for others while gaining more inclusion. Thank you for allowing the Angel Baby Team this platform to share a small token of Kei’Arie Tatum’s victories. Blessings to everyone! We always say “there is strength in numbers”.

-Team Angel Baby

Nellie Frank headshot
Office Assistant

Nellie Frank

Nellie takes part in her local Transition Internship Program for young adults with disabilities. Nellie is 20 years old and has been interning with LendKey for over a year now and graduates from Sycamore High School this year.

As soon as Nellie arrives at work, she knows exactly what she needs to do. Her responsibilities include restocking the snack shelves and entering information from business cards into a spreadsheet that is used for company recruiting. She will use these skills for the rest of her life in her professional career!

Nellie promotes a fun, loving, and supportive workplace environment which resonates with her colleagues at LendKey. Her presence at LendKey means more to the company than just the tasks she completes. Her internship represents the need to recognize neurodiversity in and out of the workplace.

After her internship at LendKey, Nellie hopes to continue to work with authentic companies who support the neurodiverse community

Brandon Gruber headshot
Customer Service

Brandon Gruber

Brandon has a list of goals. He changes them all the time, but he says independence is a step process. Getting a job was at the top this year, but with his travel schedule we’ve discouraged it. He came to me one day and said, “Dad, it’s time I became a man and get a job like you!” I said, “need some help bud?” “No, I need to do this on my own. I may need help updating my resume,” and off he went. Brandon has always had a love for fashion, shopping and networking. He also loves wearing a uniform or a symbol to feel like he’s part of a team. His college career assessments always point to sales/marketing and the arts. Brandon put all these together and scoped out an ideal first job. Independently, he dressed up, with confidence, walked into Billabong, asked for the manager, filled out an application and was given a short meeting. She asked him to come back the following week for an official interview with the regional manager.

The manager hadn’t had the opportunity to engage in conversation with a differing ability candidate, so he asked Brandon to bring in my wife at the end of the interview. His desire was to hire Brandon, but unsure of how he could get around quota’s and willing to learn about accommodations. He was certain Brandon would fit in with the team and that he would love the fun environment. Immediately following the interview, I got a text and picture of the two managers and Brandon standing in front of the store shaking hands. HE WAS OFFICIALLY HIRED and my the picture captured, a milestone in all our lives. They were excited and welcomed him to their team! As he was leaving, the manager had one more question , “with or without a job coach?” Brandon smiled and said, “without a job coach please. I’ve got this!”. My wife said, “there’s always plan B!”

As parents, we discovered that maybe we had done something right allowing Brandon certain freedoms to grow and enjoy every experience through the years. He had gained confidence simply by being placed in situations where he had to advocate on his own behalf. What he has communicated to us both over time, is he wants to get a job so he can work toward his independence. Which means living on his own and eventually finding someone to share his life with. We are now on high alert that when he walks through the door one day and says, “I called the moving company and I found a place to live in Los Angeles or New York City”, the plan is already in motion. His road to independence is in full flight

Baily Thacker headshot
Fashion Consultant

Baily Thacker

Baily works as a Fashion Consultant with her mother Becky. Baily does a lot of live sales and keeps up with inventory. Baily sells cardigans, leggings, skirts and tee shirts. She also hosts parties where she sets up the inventory. Baily helps her clients pick out the perfect outfits! Through working in Fashion, she is learning great work ethic, people skills and the importance of earning for a living

Man with Down syndrome standing in Cleveland Browns stadium

Alex Kowalski

I have been working for the Cleveland Browns since 2017 as a greeter. I love my job and meeting the fans. I like to get them excited about the game and cheer on my favorite football team, the Browns. My favorite thing about working for the Browns is meeting new people. I also like to pass out posters to the fans as they come in. I also work at Longhorn Steakhouse. I love my job there too! I help them out by preparing all the silverware for the lunch and dinner guests. My favorite part is meeting new people and greeting the regular customers who come in.

Corissa Anderson headshot
Model and Actress

Corissa Anderson

Corissa was hired by state of Maryland as an actress to promote diversity and inclusion in the following two videos

She also was hired in the movie “game change” with Julianne Moore and she became a member of Screen actors guild (SAG). Corissa graduated from UMBC college and was an intern there at the Shriver center as an office assistant, assistive technology lab. Corissa also worked as dance instructor and day care worker who was laid off during the pandemic. Corissa has recently completed training to become a health messenger for her state. Corissa has a diverse background and is seeking ongoing growth in online/telework opportunities since the pandemic, that will allow her to grow in her goal of promoting diversity and inclusion to include someone with Down syndrome and Bi-racial diverse background in the media into the future

Stephanie Crane headshot
Coffee Retailer

Stephanie Crane

My name is Stephanie and I am proud to be the owner of 4 Leaf Coffee selling Dreamers Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and gifts to help bring awareness to the fact that people with disabilities can work, lead normal lives, and achieve their dreams. I am a college student learning about business and now I have the great opportunity to share my dream with others and allow people to enjoy the great taste of our products!

Kayla Campos headshot
Candle Maker

Kayla Campos

Hi! My name is Kayla Campos, and I am the CEO of K Bee Candles. Please check my website –

My wonderful life began on January 1991. I have Down Syndrome, and the first three years of my life were very difficult. I spent lots of time in the hospital due to Bronchitis and ear infections. I enjoyed school, even though I suffered bullying because of my different abilities. I’m proud of who I’m and enjoy when I surprise people when they hear me speak in Spanish and English.

My parents and I are very thankful to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida for the Entrepreneur Academy, where I learned valuable guidance on how to start my own business. Adam, Janet, and all the leaders of the Academy have encouraged each of the CEO‘s and our sidekicks (our parents) on how to keep our business growing. I make the candles in my home kitchen. My candles are made in small batches using 100% organic beeswax pellets. I enjoy making the candles because they are hypo-allergenic, great for people with Asthma and allergies. Beeswax candles are the perfect choice for those of us who want a clean burning candle in our home. I’m looking forward to make my business grow!

Jason Dohrman headshot
Customer Service

Jason Dohrman

I work as the Dining Room Service Lead at my local Chick-fil-a. I have been working there since April, 2017. I love meeting people and greeting them. I also like taking the trays and getting drinks for people. I look forward to getting dressed up and going in. I like the responsibility-it makes me feel grown up. I enjoy earning money and eating at Chick-fil-a.

All individuals with Down Syndrome should be given a chance to be trained and be productive. This really is important to the community and we should all have that opportunity. My school has provided that opportunity to and enabled Chick-fil-a to see what a hard worker I am

Michael Holton posing in front of his classroom

Michael Holton, Jr.

My name is Michael Holton, Jr. I graduated from South Effingham High School in 2013. I completed Project Search, which is a school-to-work program, in 2014. My first job was at our local hospital where I worked for 7 years in laundry. I've now in my second year of working at South Effingham Elementary School. I work in the Technology classroom as Instructional Support. This is the same elementary school that I attended and I get to work with my former kindergarten teacher, Kellie Lee, who is now the Technology teacher. Besides working in the Technology classroom, I help greet the car riders in the mornings, I take up attendance records, I help out in the library sometimes and I've even been given the opportunity in a fifth-grade classroom to present a powerpoint lesson. As far as we know, I'm the first staff member with Down syndrome to work directly with students in a classroom in the state of Georgia. I absolutely love my job!

Maxine Simeone headshot

Maxine Simeone

My sparkle life started with headbands. I’ve loved sparkles my whole life, especially disco balls and sapphires, my birthstone. Oh, and of course–diamonds!
I’ve always worn headbands. But, one day, when I was about eight or nine years old, a gem fell off the headband I was wearing. I really liked that headband, so I took my glue gun and fixed the gem back in place.

Suddenly, I saw the vision of my future. I decided to make my own headbands, and I would put sparkles on everything. I’ve been making my own headbands ever since. At first, I made the headbands as gifts for my friends and family. Then, I started selling them at events, like fabulous galas or fundraisers. Today, I’m selling my creations in stores and on my Esty shop, Sparkles by Maxine. I’ve also been featured on the news, which was so cool. I am not shy at all around cameras and have a good time posing and showing off my headbands.

Being the owner of Sparkles by Maxine is wonderful because I love seeing people wear my headbands and hair clips and be happy. Also, it’s good for people to see a lady boss. I love selling my headbands because when you sparkle, you feel fun. You can let go in your mind and just be happy. So, I love to see people sparkle because I love to see them happy. Learn more here:

Stephanie DeCicco headshot
Customer Service - Old Navy

Stephanie DeCicco

Our daughter, Stephanie, is 42 years old. She has been employed by Old Navy for twenty years. Stephanie has always wanted to work in the clothing industry. She loves going to work and helping customers. Her boss says she lights up the store!