More than 400,000 Americans are living with Down Syndrome. In fact, one out of nearly 700 babies this year will be born with some form of the birth defect, and while many of these individuals will grow up with many strengths and talents, their options for education are limited after high school. Now one central Texas family is trying to give those with Down Syndrome more opportunities for a higher education.
When you meet Ruby Plachta she seems just like any other three-year-old. She has tons of energy and likes to play with her big sister, Ella Mae, who is also her best friend.
"She's funny and she's a great sister," said Ella Mae.
Ruby is also learning to write her name and to read. Everything seems normal about her, but there is one exception. Ruby was born with Down Syndrome, or as her parents Liz and Tim Plachta like to say, she's "rocking an extra chromosome."
"A lot of people don't realize just how amazingly capable individuals with Down Syndrome are," said Liz Plachta, "That's another part of our mission."
The Plachtas learned Ruby had Down syndrome at birth, and it was shortly thereafter they made a pledge to give their daughter all of the opportunities any parent would want for a child; including the chance of going to college someday.
"We were just very inspired by her sweet little spirit to do something for this community of people," said Liz Plachta.
The Plachtas created Ruby's Rainbow, a non-profit organization that survives on donations and spreads a message that individuals who have Down Syndrome can have countless capabilities, and deserve a chance to chase their dreams.
"They're just like any other kiddo," said Plachta. "We all have challenges. We have strengths and weaknesses. They have some that specific to their extra chromosome."
While Ruby keeps her family smiling and laughing, the Plachtas are preparing to hold their 3rd annual fundraiser called Ruby's Rockin' 'Rainbowl' - a bowling tournament where all the proceeds go towards scholarships to help those rocking the extra chromosome reach their highest potential. So far two dozen students have received scholarships through Ruby's Rainbow.
Ruby's Rockin Rainbowl is Sunday June 22, at 1:00 p.m. at Dart Bowl in Austin.