Meet seven area individuals whose special needs, from cerebral palsy to Down syndrome, have not defined them. Their families deserve plenty of credit for their achievements, for sure, yet it's their heart, determination, and personality that deserve to be emulated.
"How wrong they were," Randy's mom says of the early specialists who grossly overestimated how limiting this brave boy's cerebral palsy would be. Randy has since graduated high school and is enrolled in college in Manhattan.
Busy, busy: With a four-day-a-week job, a regular volunteering gig, volleyball, bingo, theater, and more, this developmentally delayed young lady is never bored, and always determined.
Defying early expectations, this preschooler with cerebral palsy has begun to use her voice and has strengthened core muscles, improving her chances of walking. Her family loves her no matter what.
This Long Islander, who has autism, courageously crossed the finish line of his 26-mile dream. Matthew started running when he found it calmed his anxiety, and with the help of a dedicated coach, he completed the New York City Marathon.
Not only has this "happy, stubborn man," as his dad describes him, lived beyond the age doctors predicted when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but a residential farm-based facility in upstate New York gives him real purpose.
Joshua Eber, an accomplished Rockland-based actor who happens to have Down syndrome, is a role model and a downright happy guy. Joshua has defied many medical expectations throughout his life in order to pursue his passion for performing.
Born blind, deaf, and with a developmental disability, Kenny Berg of Queens has defied doctor's expectations from the start. His fighting spirit, combined with his mother's passionate advocacy, has set the stage for a life full of independence and love.
In her new book "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood," Jennifer Senior addresses the fact that while kids are the overwhelming joy of our lives, they're not always fun. She shares how family life has changed, and how you can find joy in parenting.
A new children's choir on Long Island, founded by local parents, strives to help fill the gap in children's arts education and give back to the community.
Julie Chu, a resident of Fairfield, CT, is competing on Team USA's Women's ice hockey team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Here, she talks about her career and family support.
Actors Charlotte D'Amboise and Terrence Mann, the husband-and-wife duo who play Fastrada and King Charles in 'Pippin' on Broadway, talk about how they juggle parenting their two daughters while performing eight shows a week on the Great White Way.
Through her blog Autism Wonderland, Bronx writer Lisa Quinones, who is also the parent of a child with autism, helps dispel special needs stigmas in the Latino community. She's also a hero for following her own dream while raising a child with special needs.
Michael Natiello of Garrison has served as the creative director of Westchester's famous Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze for the past nine years. Here, he tells us what we can expect at the 2013 Blaze, which will feature more than 5,000 jack-o'-lanterns.
Hayley Faith Negrin, a Fairfield County middle-schooler, voices "Peg + Cat," a new PBS preschool series with a mission to make math fun for everyone.
Lidia Bastianich, the NYC chef, television host, and author, discusses the inspiration behind her new children's book, "Nonna's Birthday Surprise," and explains how we can help our kids connect food with nature.
A Long Island family dedicates time to bring happy birthday parties to the homeless children on Long Island through Birthday Wishes, a nonprofit organization founded in Massachusettes in 2002.
In an interview with the authors of "Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance with Our Mothers," four women explore their relationships with their mothers, their relationships with their own children, and the lessons they learned.
Four Westchester women, Joan Potter, Vicki Addesso, Susan Hodara, and Lori Toppel, wrote a book about their relationships with their mothers. The result: "Still Here Thinking of You," a personal, thought-provoking examination of the true nature of mother-daughter relationships.
Acclaimed actor, writer, director, and Manhattan dad Kevin Del Aguila (most recently Smee in the Tony-winning "Peter and the Starcatcher" and writer and director of "The Velveteen Rabbit" at DR2 Theatre) tells us why theater is so important for kids.
Tim Morehouse, originally from Riverdale in the Bronx, has an impressive career: He has competed on the US Olympic fencing teams in Athens, Beijing, and London (so far). Since winning a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Games, Morehouse has consistently leveraged his influence to inspire kids across the world to lead active lifestyles and to find the excitement and fun in lesser-known sports. We spoke to Morehouse about his past life as a teacher in the New York City school system, his love of the sport, and more.
Acclaimed actor, writer, and director Kevin Del Aguila talks about his alternating roles as Broadway star (in the Tony-winning "Peter and the Starcatcher") and Manhattan dad.
Co-founder of NYC Dads Group Boot Camp for New Dads and father of one, Lance Somerfeld shares how he came to create a dads group, the best parts of raising a child and family in Manhattan, and clears the air on stereotypes about stay-at-home dads.
Author Mary Lou Quinlan answers questions regarding her book, "The God Box." The book touches on family stories, personal history and healing through the physical act of acceptance and letting go with a God Box, an object very close to Quinlan's heart. Mary Lou Quinlan's "The God Box" goes beyond popular book club reads by focusing on love, faith and family.
Today, open adoption is almost universally accepted. Years ago that was not the case. In a personal account, Titia Ellis speaks of the shame and secrets surrounding her own adoption, and the search for her birth family.