By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Bryan and Emily Anderson both grew up in Shrewsbury and attended Shrewsbury High School (Bryan ’02, Emily ’01), but it wasn’t until 2009 that they began dating. The couple married in 2012 and welcomed son Charlie in March of 2014. Two years later the birth of daughter Andie and a Down syndrome diagnosis brought with it challenges as well as unexpected blessings. In April, Emily will be running the Boston Marathon to support the Massachusetts General Hospital Down Syndrome Clinic – a place she has become all too familiar with.
Life as Bryan and Emily knew it took an unforeseen turn on June 3, 2016 with the birth of daughter Andie. Following an at birth diagnosis of Down syndrome, Andie was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where she underwent major stomach surgery. She spent 19 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) before heading home. At the time, Bryan and Emily were overwhelmed with fear and sadness. Now eight months later, life is more rewarding than either had anticipated.
“When Andie was first born, we had so many fears and negative thoughts because of our perception of Down syndrome,” said Emily. “Andie has proved that perception completely false. I believe Andie was given to us for a reason. She has given me a purpose in this life. As if being a mother to her and Charlie wasn’t purpose enough, I feel as though I have been handed a responsibility on a silver platter to leave this world a more tolerant and accepting place. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed our family with this little angel. We were wrong to assume that Andie would be anything less than extraordinary.”
Over the past eight months, Andie has spent a great deal of time at Mass General Hospital – from the open heart surgery she underwent in January to the frequent visits to the Down Syndrome Clinic.
“They have provided us with care, support and knowledge throughout the past eight months and will continue to be a large part of our lives going forward,” Emily shared. “The clinic is near and dear to my family.”
Emily has run the Boston Marathon five times, but this will be the first time she has done so as a wife and mother. It is also the first time she will be running for a cause.
With the support of family, friends and the medical community at MGH Bryan and Emily are excited for Andie’s future.
“The possibilities for her are endless and I am determined to make it my life’s mission as her mother and advocate to ensure that she has every opportunity she rightfully deserves,” said Emily. “Andie has already taught us how to look at life in a much more meaningful way and we appreciate each and every single day. The world would be a much better place if there were more ‘Andies’ in it! We are the lucky ones.”
To learn more about the MGH Down Syndrome Clinic, visit www.massgeneral.org/children/services/down-syndrome/child-clinic.aspx.
To donate to Emily, visit https://because.massgeneral.org/andierose..