MEET OUR FAMILIES
Help us give a big Buddy Baskets welcome to our families and their new special blessings! We’re honored to support their journey through parenthood and look forward to celebrating each milestone along the way. We’ll have some of our amazing families introduce themselves to you below and we know you’ll find your hearts filled with joy as they tell you about their special little addition and what Buddy Baskets has meant to them. And when your heart is moved like we know it will be, and you decide you’d like to contribute a special item to our Buddy Baskets or even adopt our next Buddy Baskets family, please contact Kate Fraser at the foundation or go to our Donate page and choose “Buddy Baskets” as the program you’d like to support!
The Goss Family
On December 26, 2015, at 10:21 PM, our lives changed forever, and not in the way we thought it would. We received the biggest surprise of our lives, and it wasn’t just the gender of our baby boy Ace. I still replay it over and over to this day. From Justin screaming out, “It’s a boy!”, to the pediatrician looking Ace over and asking, “Did you have the genetics screening completed?” Taken by surprise we quickly answered no. She brought him over and said, “Let me show you what I’m looking at.” She began to point out his almond shaped eyes, the single crease on the palms of his hands, and the extra space in between his big toes. “These are all characteristics of Down Syndrome,” she said. Boom. That was like a ton of bricks.
Our minds immediately began to flood with questions like… Will he be able to live a normal life? What challenges will he face? What will school be like? Was this my fault? Could I have prevented this? But before we could even get our minds around this, he was swept away to NICU at Baptist, and then to Wolfson’s the next day for Meconium Aspiration. Another devastating blow. While he was in NICU we began researching and discovered the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. DSAJ then, in turn, led us to the Tesori foundation.
The Buddy Basket program has been so amazing for us. They took us under their wings and it has never been the same. All of our doubts and fears have completely settled. I can’t stress how vital it has been to have resources and to know other families who are going through the same thing on a day-to-day basis. The fact that it’s a smaller group also makes it so much more personal. It really is an amazing little family. To know these other children who were born the same year as Ace is so wonderful. He’s so lucky to have friends just like him at this age. 💙 We now have so many people we can reach out to for questions regarding things like PT, OT, and even stuff as simple as reflux. He’s the youngest in our 2015 group, so it really helps having people to reach out to who have just recently been in our shoes. To know that there is someone out there for you has been life changing. This is a journey for all of us, and we are learning something new everyday. It’s just so much better when you don’t have to travel that road alone.
The Bishop Family
Beckett’s diagnosis was a scary time for our family because of all the unknowns. But we have been so blessed with the support from this amazing community. The Tesori Family Foundation and Buddy Baskets stepped in to embrace our family and our fears and offered an abundance of not only love but true understanding of what we were going through. To see all the people who donated to each basket and put time and money to give back to families they don’t know was truly touching to us. Beckett has brought more joy to our family in this last year than we ever imagined and we are so thankful to be on this journey with him and all the other rockin’ families!
*Foundation note: We are thrilled to share that the Bishop family was the VERY first ever Buddy Baskets gift we ever delivered. On a lovely spring day in 2015, Michelle and Isaiah Tesori met Holly, McKenli and Beckett to shower the with love. It was the start of what would be one of our favorite foundation programs. Beckett and his family will always have a very special place in our hearts!*
The Smith Family
Baby Charlotte “Charlie”
Buddy Baskets was a life saver for our family. At a time when the only thing people were focused on was Charlie’s diagnosis, the Tesori Family Foundation came in and made us feel beyond blessed to be welcoming Charlie into our lives. They not only made us feel special, but they looked past the diagnosis and helped us celebrate life, love and family.
Without the Buddy Baskets program, my family would have been overwhelmed by the amount of information we received instead of just focusing on what was really important; our daughter and the happiness she’s brought to us.
Charlie loves her dog, Remy, who lays next to her during nap time, and she loves her Sophie the giraffe. She also loves playing with her WubbaNub which she absolutely can’t go anywhere without. She smiles as soon as her dad walks through the door each and every day and she giggles when her sister talks to her. Charlie’s a professional babbler and has already developed an obsession with the show NCIS.
Our family has been not only fortunate, but extremely lucky to have Charlie in our lives. At times it can be a lot, and a bit trying, but at the end of the day none of us would change it because we all know how much Charlie is worth it. She’s the best part of me and without her, my life wouldn’t be complete.
The Romine Family
Our son Thomas was born on December 20th and came into this world welcomed with love and excitement from his parents and big brother John. The pediatrician was the first to note that Thomas exhibited a few physical characteristics that was common for newborns who have Down syndrome yet we just thought that his eyes were characteristic of his mother’s Asian heritage. Testing later verified that Thomas does in fact have Down syndrome. Of course we cycled through every emotion and thought of the hardships that he may face in the future, but we also realized that we knew very little of what to expect. We reached out and got in touch with the DSAJ who were a great help and who we are excited to be a part of. Our information was passed on to Michelle Tesori who reached out to us to present our family with our very own customized Buddy Basket.
We felt very blessed when we were invited to meet with the Tesoris and other families who already received baskets and of course to see these beautiful children that came into the world who shared a common trait of our son of having that extra chromosome. The Buddy Basket itself was awesome and I felt the thought and care that went into making it just for us. The biggest meaning of our basket and getting together with everyone we met that day is that it this is a celebration of life than a CELEBRATION of Down syndrome. All of these children we met are here as God’s greatest gift and perfect as they are. We are truly blessed to have Thomas as our son to be part of this group with all of you.
Thomas is over 3 months old now. He smiles and laughs and likes to respond back with cute little baby sounds when we talk to him. Thomas’s big brother John loves to hug and kiss his baby brother, that may change once Thomas starts grabbing his toys. Mom & dad are doing great and we learn a little more each day as we watch both grow. We consider ourselves to be very fortunate to be part of the DSAJ and the Tesori Family Foundation. We look forward to seeing all of the children we met grow and thrive and we celebrate all of their lives every day.
The Simon Family
I was told about buddy baskets from Debbie at DSAJ. Then shortly after I was contacted by someone from the Buddy Basket family and asked if she could bring us gifts. We received these baskets full of wonderful gifts for our baby girl, our other kids and special treats for us parents too. Also, we were advised if we needed anything or had questions to contact Michelle Tesori or any other Mom in the buddy basket family. Now we were officially in a small family that understood our needs. They all have helped in so many ways to help us through this wonderful journey. I work in medical field so I was aware of our diagnosis and some things would be different. However, never knew all the questions I would have or didn’t know that I should ask until I became part of the buddy basket family. They helped us when we were in the hospital for thanksgiving day, by bringing us food to eat.
The Jones Family
Our Abigail was basically given a death sentence when I was 30 weeks pregnant. None of our doctors thought there was any hope for her survival. Along with Down syndrome, Abigail also had a very large, what appeared to be malignant, tumor taking over most of the left hemisphere of her brain. I vividly remember our OB looking us in the eye, telling us that this was fatal and we needed to be prepared for the worst. When Abigail was born, we repeated the MRI and were met with very grim news from a team of doctors. We opted to take her home with the help of PedsCare, pediatric hospice, and love her dearly with the time that we did have. We were full of joy, but also paralyzing fear and sorrow that we could lose her at any minute. It was an incredibly stressful, difficult, and lonely time.
Then, in bounced Michelle and Isaiah one afternoon to deliver a special basket literally overflowing with goodies just for our family. No one was forgotten – Abigail and big sister Audrey had plenty of treats, and some grown up things for us. Most notably, a gift certificate for a newborn photo session with an amazing photographer who captured the most touching pictures of Abigail and our family. These photographs were a precious gift to us, freezing time and making everlasting memories with our terminally diagnosed daughter. Then, God used these images to launch Abigail’s story and His love to millions. Pretty incredible. As much as we loved receiving this beautiful basket, we loved meeting Michelle and Isaiah more. The joyful spirit they brought into our house while our family was struggling with so much was so incredible. Michelle did not look at Abigail with pity, she was elated to meet her, snuggle her, and love on her. She brought a breath of life into our house that afternoon and lifted us up. Gave us hope. Told us that God is good and He loves our Abigail more than we could ever know. That is what Buddy Baskets is all about. The gifts are amazing and so generous, but the heart behind the gifts, to celebrate your beautiful children just as they are, is what will change this community.
So how is Abigail now? Long story short, God’s plan was much greater and Abigail underwent a craniotomy at 9 weeks old at Boston Children’s Hospital to remove the tumor. Then pathology reports showed that it was indeed benign. NOT cancer. And that surgery is curative and the tumor is very unlikely to come back. Our Abigail is now 8 months old… 8 months with a precious, joyful baby that we were certain we would not have. She is happy and healthy and learning every single day. She works hard at her therapies and continues to progress, astonishing her therapists. She smiles and laughs and pulls her big sisters hair. We know now not to place any limitations on her. She is the daughter of our God and in His capable hands, she will most certainly change the world alongside her friend Isaiah and all of the wonderful children and families that we are forever connected to, thanks to Buddy Baskets.
The Hughes Family
Our Buddy Basket came at the perfect time! I delivered Evy 3 weeks early and was really nervous to finally meet her and scared about the unknowns. We had a wonderful nurse, who actually delivered sweet Isaiah and told me about the baskets. I couldn’t believe the link! It was clear to me how God orchestrated everything. It was like He was telling me “everything is going to be ok, rest in me”. I was so amazed and touched when I saw the baskets! My husband had to be at home with our toddler for a lot of my hospital stay so it was really nice to receive such a sweet gift and to look through all the cool goodies for our family! Even better than the basket were the connections to other basket families. Our get togethers a have been so much fun and it’s wonderful to meet other sweet babies with some extra awesomeness!!!
The Elswick Family
Buddy Baskets was so good to my family. Just knowing there is someone out there that wants to help means the world to us. It came at such a good time. It made me feel so special. Michelle and her staff are always there for you when you need them. I have emailed Michelle at 2am, thinking she will get back to me in the morning. Within 10 min she had responded to me! She is such an encouragement to me. I love this organization so much.
Everything changed in a instant on February 5. It was a normal day suppose to be a very happy day for my husband and I but things changed very quickly. We went to the doctor to have our anatomy scan for our 3rd bundle of joy we are expecting in July. We were so excited to finally find out if we were having another boy or girl that day. We went into the office waited to be called back. Finally they called our name we went into the ultrasound room to get our ultrasound done. It was such a happy moment for us. We sat there and looked at our bundle of joy on the screen. We watched as she scanned all over her tiny little body. She was very awake that day she was moving like crazy. We finally got to where the ultrasound tech asked us what we thought it was, she held the wand over the private parts and asked if we could tell what we were having. We knew immediately what we were having it was a Girl!!! We were so excited. But then the bad news came. She said they had found some abnormalities on the scan. My heart sunk immediately. All you want is for your children to be healthy from day one.
I was just told that there was something wrong with my baby girl, whom I haven’t even met yet. She told us that we would need to talk to the doctor and see what she wants us to do. She said sometimes in these cases some patients have to go see a high risk OB. So she took us to the room and said that the dr would be in a second. As we sat there I was freaking out, my husband told me everything was going to be ok. Not to worry. But me being me was worrying like crazy. It seemed like forever for the doctor came into the room. Finally she came in, the look on her face said it all. She started telling us all kinds if different things this could be. I just sat there in shock. How could this be. How could this happen to me and my precious family. She kept saying all kinds of different things which wasn’t answering many questions for us, finally my Husband asked her if this was something we needed to be worried about. Her response gave me chills. She said that she is concerned enough to send us to the high risk OB doctors upstairs. So we sat there and asked when we needed to go. She said the tech was calling them now to see when they wanted to see us. They came back and said they needed to see us now. Here we were not knowing anything at all. Both of us were freaking out at this point. As we left her office to go up stairs all I could do was pray. Pray to God to give me the strength to deal with all this information I was just given. As we went to the elevators we pushed the up button and waited for the elevator to come. It came we got on it and hit the 18 floor. It took us up there we walked in and signed in. We sat down. Not knowing what really was going on my mind was on overload. All I wanted for this day was to be a happy day just like the part 2 ultrasounds I had with my other 2 kids. But this was very different. We sat down in the waiting room and it seemed like forever before we were called back. Finally they called us back. First thing is we went into a genetic counselor office, she started telling us all about different genetic disorders. We were very overwhelmed with all the information. Then she sat us back out into a different waiting room and said that the ultrasound tech would be right with us. They called us back into the next room. I got ready to see my baby girl again but all I could do was cry when I looked at her. I knew there was something wrong and there was nothing I could do to change it. The tech did all her scans and she went and got the doctor. He came into the room and looked over everything. He said there are a few things this could be. He said this could be Down Syndrome, It could be Turners Syndrome. I can only remember these two things he said. I asked well what is Turners? He just said that is was when the baby girl had an extra X chromosome, I believe. That day is such a blur for me. I said ok well what does that mean? He really never explained it very well to me. I was a mess. We didn’t get a very understanding doctor that day. I understand they are very blunt and they have to be but they can be a little compassionate also which he was not. He told us that the only was to confirm this diagnosis would be to do a procedure called amniocentesis, this is where they stick a needle into the mother’s belly and pull out amniotic fluid which carries the babies DNA and it would be able to tell us if there is an extra chromosome in her DNA. He said there are other ways but this the best way to find out. I had always heard that they were dangerous. But at this point and time I didn’t know what else to do. I knew God was in control and all I could do was trust him. So we asked if My Husband and I could have a moment to discuss this. They left the room. We talked about it. We needed to know. So we went ahead and decided to have it done. They told us it would take 8-10 business days to get the results back. So we left, what was suppose to be an hour appointment turned into a 5 hour appointment. We didn’t know what to think where were we suppose to go from here????
We waited the 8 days worrying about what we would hear back from the doctor. We finally received the call… The results were in and we found out that our baby girl was positive for Trisomy 21. Ok so where do we go from here? We start planning and wait to see our beautiful baby girl. We are going to have a lot of challenges from here. Our lives are changing right before our eyes. There is a lot of stuff we are fixing to encounter. We are strong parents we have a lot of support out there. Right now things are normal and we are going on with our lives. But once July gets here things will change…. I know this baby will be loved very much. Emily got here on July 6 at 6am. It was a short labor. Since she has gotten here it has been a whirl wind of unexpected things. The morning she got here everything went great until I got back from my surgery. Before my surgery they told me she looked great and she wouldn’t have to go to the NICU. Once I got out of surgery my Husband came and seen me in recovery and said they had not brought Emily back to us. I was a little concerned why no one had said anything to him about what was going on with her. Once I got back to my room the Pediatrician called me on the phone to let me know what was going on with my newborn baby. And also to tell me that My baby girl was not coming back to the room with me like I had been told she was before I left for my surgery. I lost it. I demanded I see the nurse that was taking care of her in the nursery. The nurse came and saw me and explained to me more about what was going on. She finally was able to bring her back to me and I was able to see her for a little while until the speech therapist came in and did an evaluation on her to see how she did on her feedings. She was having a hard time breathing and eating at the same time. Then the next thing I know the neonatologist came in and told me that she needed to go to the NICU for more observation. So they took her away to check her out better. About an hour after that I was able to see her again. But her brother and sister weren’t able to see her. They were so excited when she was born. All they wanted to do was meet their little sister and they only got to see her for a few minutes. From that day on I was back and forth from the NICU to my Hospital room. They kept me until Thursday. Then I was sent home without my baby. It wasn’t a good feeling at all leaving her there. I did get lucky and by Saturday they were able to move her to a part of the NICU where I was able to stay the night with her. So there I was going back and forth from home to the hospital. Spending one night with my baby in the hospital and another at home with my two other babies. That was my life for 3 weeks. Feeling bad and upset for leaving home and going to the hospital and seeing Emily, then leaving the Hospital. Also leaving my other 2 babies at home. It was one of the hardest 3 weeks I have ever had. Emily finally got released from the hospital on July 29. Before she was able to come home we had some big decision to make. Emily was having a lot of trouble breathing and eating still. She started doing really good and taking all her bottles then she went backwards. She started having trouble again. So there we were, what to do. The nurse suggested that we consider a G-Tube. We had to decide what to do. If we went that route then we could take her home sooner. So we did that. On July 24 she went into surgery for her tube. She did great, it was only like a 45 minute surgery and she was out. She had to stay in the regular NICU for a few days so I wasn’t able to stay over night with her for a few days. They were able to get her back to the step-down NICU so I went and stayed with her again. Finally we were able to bring her home.
Emily had her surgery on September 28. That was one of the hardest days for me. There is my sweet little angel who hasn’t done anything wrong and she is fixing to have a huge surgery. This is little angel has had more done to her in her short 3 months she has been alive than I have had in my 30 years of life. As she lays there on the bed in the pre-op room waiting for all the doctors to come and get her. She has no idea about what is going on. She is so innocent. Her daddy and I just laid there and talked to her. But she didn’t cry or fuss. She just laid there and talked to us as if it was any other day. It was the sweetest thing ever. My heart was breaking knowing what she was fixing to have to go through. I know she needed this surgery to get stronger, but this was my baby and I didn’t want her to have to go through all this major stuff.
The nurse finally came and took her back. There went my baby without me, I couldn’t go back with her. I had to let her go with strangers. I had to trust God with these people that they would take great care of my little baby. Emily is a very hard stick so the majority of the time they spend once she finally got back there was trying to get her lines in. They took her back at 8 am and they went on by pass at 11 am. All I could do was sit there and trust God with everything going on. Chris and I just sat in the waiting room with My mom and dad, his mom and my uncle. This was one of the longest days ever. Finally at about 1:30 pm the nurse came out and said that she had come off of by pass and was doing good. They would let us know when they were closing. Finally the surgeon came out and told us everything went great they were done and were getting ready to move her to her room. That it would be a couple of hours before we could go back and see her. Finally they came back to get us so we could go back and see her. My sweet angel, look at all them tubes and wires and lines in you. You have more tubes than I have ever had to have. I am so sorry you are having to go through all this. Mommy and Daddy love you so much. She did extremely well and she look comfortable. She was on alot but meds and they were keeping her calm and comfortable. She did well through out the night and rested. I was so amazed at her the next morning she was great. She was basically breathing on her own with the breathing tube still in place. The next morning she was great they removed the breathing tube and she was just on a a nasal cannula. She slept most of that day. My little muffin. I wasn’t able to hold her cause of her lines she had lines in her. So all I could do is stand by her bed and rug her arm and comfort her. Usually when she would get upset I would hold her and rock her. But I wasn’t able to. I could just scoop her up and bounce her in the bed to try and get her to calm down. It seemed to work. Emily is such a trooper. She did so well after this surgery. To look at her now you wouldn’t even know she had open heart surgery a little over a week ago. My muffin is growing so well after this. It is exactly what she needed.