Hi everyone! Thanks for clicking through your way to read this blog. My name is Darlene Rodrigo and I'm Bella's mom. Bella Rodrigo is 11-years old (soon to be 12 on November 20th! ). Bella was my first child and she was born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21 is a genetic disorder that happens when there is an extra chromosome present in the 21st pair. Hence, the scientific name Trisomy 21 (Tri = 3 of the 21st pair). Anyway, I can talk about this for days because once I had my daughter, I instantly became her lifelong fan and advocate. I promised her the minute I held her for the first time in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) that I'd do ANYTHING for her to get through this tough life alive & safe for as long as I could.
Fast forward to many doctors appointments, specialists and hospital stays, I was able to network with other families and blog about our special needs life in a blog I titled, "A Little Xtra 21." Years later, this interest in blogging and networking led me to attend a Radio Broadcasting program at my local community college. I was able to attain an internship a couple years after starting and eventually landed one at KOST 103.5!
I've been blessed to work for LA's radio queen, Ellen K. She would be embarrassed and will be once she reads this but that's what she is to me and so many other females in the industry. Ellen gave me the nickname, "Social Queen Darlene" on the Ellen K Morning Show and I loved it to much I changed all of my usernames to it! My radio family has always been so supportive and encouraging when it comes to my family life. So, it's my goal to pay it forward and help other families with whatever I can.
From the moment Bella was born, she has taught me so much about Down syndrome and living life with special needs. Through the past 11 years, Bella's gone through a lot for a kid her age. She's shown us an entirely new perspective to our own lives and others living a life like hers. My hope as her mother has always been to do all that I can to shine a light on what Down syndrome is and show others that she is a silly girl with a humongous heart that wants to be like you and I, included & supported. I hope that if you've ever encountered a story I shared about Bella on the radio these past few years, that they've given you a better understanding of what she goes through and possibly even make you feel a little grateful and proud.
To imagine walking this Buddy Walk as an intern with KOST 103.5 five years ago, to now co-hosting the walk with Bella is a very proud and grateful moment for me and my family! If you're free this upcoming Sunday, November 17th 2019 from 10am-1pm, come out and walk with us and all of our buddies at the 25th annual Down syndrome Association of Los Angeles Buddy Walk at the Los Angeles State Historic Park! We'll even be singing happy birthday to Bella as her birthday is just 3 days after the walk. Hope to see you there! If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to The Sunday Journal on KOST 103.5 FM hosted by Kari Steele to hear Bella's birth story between 6:00am-6:30am PT.