Our lives with Olivia

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Tara Stoll Pic 1     Tara Stoll has been with Missouri Western for 13 years, and in that time, her life has changed in many ways.

Stoll’s job as a video communications producer has led to her to direct and edit a variety of videos for Missouri Western, but there’s one video in particular that highlights her other              job: being a mother.

Stoll shot a video for United Way two years ago that focused on her daughter, Olivia, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes lifelong mental and              developmental delays and other problems.

“At first, it was earth shattering,” Stoll said.  “I honestly couldn’t believe it.”

Stoll remembers being very scared about not knowing how her daughter’s disability would affect her family.  However, once she was educated on Olivia’s condition, Stoll couldn’t                imagine life without her.

“I was originally very ignorant of disabilities in general,” Stoll said.  “Different organizations have helped me with that, and I realized that Olivia was just a child.  She learns a bit differently, but she’s just a child.”

Olivia has a sister, Amelia, who is three years older than her.  Stoll said that the relationship between the two is as natural as can be.

“Amelia is aware of her younger sister’s condition, though she still wonders how it came to be,” Stoll said.  “But they fight and talk to each other like normal sisters do.”

Olivia goes to United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Greater Saint Joseph.  The executive director of UCP, Teresa Gagliano, believes that all children deserve to live a life without limits.

“UCP’s program provides critical, early intervention to children with developmental disabilities and their families,” Gagliano said.  “We also strive to meet each child’s and family’s unique needs and provide them with services that allow them to truly live this ‘life without limits.'”

Stoll is also very involved with United Way to help raise money for various organizations across St. Joseph, such as UCP.  Along with shooting a video for them, Stoll is one of the organizers for the United Way campaign at Missouri Western.

President of United Way of Greater St. Joseph, Kylee Strough, encourages people to get involved with the 2013 campaign by coming to some of the events or volunteering.

“We have many events planned to help raise money for these organizations, such as the Missouri Western Paint It Gold Blitz, which we hope will raise excitement for the upcoming football season and Zumba at the B&J Skate Center,” Strough said.

Stoll has hosted some fundraisers herself for the “Step Up for Down Syndrome” walk which will be held at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 26.

“We’ve done fundraisers here in St. Joseph to keep the community involved,” Stoll said.  “We’ve set up events through McAlister’s and even had a bowling night where we raffled off prizes.”

Stoll has learned so much from her daughter over the past five years and continues to host fundraisers to help raise money for organizations like UCP.

“She’s become such an integral part of our lives,” Stoll said.  “We struggle sometimes, but we learn and grow and love, and that’s all we can hope for in life, right?”

Details regarding the United Way 2013 Campaign can be found on their website http://www.stjosephunitedway.org/.

For those who would like to volunteer for United Way, you can call (816) 364-2381.

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