A disability usually refers to the condition of being unable to perform a task or function because of a physical and/or mental impairment.
Many times a disability is associated with such words as limitation, restriction, disadvantage and deficiency. As a result, this can cause a person to use their disability as a crutch, which often times becomes an excuse as to why they can’t or won’t do something.
Luckily for Sara Wolff of Moscow, she does not allow her disability to hinder her in any way. As a matter of fact, she uses it as motivation to educate the public while creating awareness.
Sara Wolff, age 27, was born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.
According to health.google.com, in most cases, “Down syndrome usually occurs when there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. This form of Down syndrome is called Trisomy 21. The extra chromosome causes problems with the way the body and brain develop.”
Down syndrome is also considered the most common single cause of human birth defects. With symptoms varying from person to person and ranging from mild to severe, physical development is often slower than normal which causes most children to never reach their average adult height.
It may also cause delayed mental and social development, however, many people like Sara can live independent and productive lives well into adulthood.
A 2002 North Pocono graduate, Sara was the first fully-included student with Down syndrome to attend North Pocono from preschool through high school. After graduation she applied to Keystone College and has already completed 15 credits.
Currently employed as a law clerk at O’Malley and Langan, P.C. in Scranton, some of her duties and responsibilities in her 10-year tenure include typing, filing, mail distribution, research, office projects etc. She also received the O’Malley and Langan Team Player Award in 2001.
Sara is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Down Syndrome Society, NY; a member of the Board of Directors of ARC of NEPA; a member of the Board of Directors of ARC of PA; secretary and co-chair of Advocacy Capacity Committee of The ARC of PA.
Due to her proactive role in spreading Down syndrome awareness, she was approached last fall by a representative from the National Down Syndrome Society to become the voice of their public awareness campaign, My Great Story, which serves to honor and celebrate the 400,000 Americans living with Down syndrome.
Sara was one of two people chosen for this campaign and acts as the Society’s motivational and inspirational keynote speaker. Through her involvement, Sara has been able to meet such famous people as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Maria Shriver, Meredith Vieira and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Page 2 of 2 - Of all the different places Sara has been able to speak, she said her most memorable experience was when she spoke to the medical students at the University of Drexel. “This meant so much to me because they’re the future doctors, they’re the future nurses,” she explained.
Following her speech, which usually lasts between 30-45 minutes, Sara shows her audience a video of home photos set to the music of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb. This video serves as another window into the ever-impressive life of this remarkable young woman. She said, “I climbed a lot of mountains in my time. This song really relates to my life, that’s why I picked it.”
In addition to her involvement with the My Great Story campaign, Sara also visits schools in conjunction with the ARC Auxiliary to speak to students about what it’s like to live with a disability. Just last month she spoke to students at Moscow and Jefferson Elementary Centers.
While at our local elementary schools Sara said, “I was extremely impressed by the reaction of the kids.” The children were very attentive and asked a variety of questions following her speech.
Never nervous, Sara said she enjoys every minute of public speaking. “It’s a thrill of a life,” she added.
Although she experienced some name calling growing up, Sara was pretty well accepted both in school and throughout the community. Growing up she was very fortunate to have such a wonderful circle of close-knit friends.
Her proudest moment occurred during her senior year of high school. For her senior project, Sara decided to organize a Buddy Walk. In its first year approximately 800 people attended and since then it’s become an annual event. Rotating among area school districts, Sara described it as an “overwhelming experience.”
Sara Wolff is an unforgettable, extraordinary individual with hypnotic eyes, a contagious smile, and an infectious personality. She said, “This face is who I am. This face has made a difference in other people’s lives. It doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts.”
She continued, “Don’t be afraid to be a friend to someone with a disability. If you have a disability keep trying; never give up. Never say never. The words ‘I can’t’ don’t exist.”
Sara will be speaking at the 4th Annual Down Syndrome Conference at Princeton University on Sunday, Nov. 14. For more information or to learn more about Sara’s story, please visit www.sara-wolff.com.