A Family adapts to new challenges of a child with Down SyndromeSubmitted: 11/13/2013
Story By Melissa Constanzer

GLEASON - We all want perfect, healthy, and happy babies but sometimes things don't go as perfectly as planned. One Gleason woman and her family learned how to accept this.

"The second I looked at the picture, I knew he had Down Syndrome," said Shannon Staskiewicz.

Shannon Staskiewicz couldn't lose that thought when she first saw her new baby boy.

"I was depressed, I was angry, I was grieving, you know, I expected to have this perfect little boy. And while he is perfect in his own way, it took a long time to make that connection. When I looked at him, all I saw was Down Syndrome, I didn't see Hunter," says Shannon.

She couldn't prepare for this. So she turned to other mothers online for help.

"I, you know, connected with a number of mom's on face book and they were so helpful. You know, just to say, that's normal, you know, it's normal to be sad, it's normal to be angry, but now you need to accept him for who he is," said Shannon.

But the family couldn't afford for the anger to last long. Hunter needed lots of care and attention.

"About twenty-five to forty percent of all Down Syndrome babies have some form of cardiac malformation," said Dr. Dennis McFadden, Shannon's OB/GYN.

Hunter had a hole in his heart that healed on its own. But he was born with breathing issues. His lungs aren't as strong as they should be.

"With Hunter, putting him in daycare doesn't work well. He doesn't have a very good immune system...Three days, he would be home sick," says Staskiewicz.

Shannon had to quit her job to take care of Hunter. It put extra stress on her family but she believes it was worth it. The only difference from her other children is that Hunter grows and learns at a slower rate.

"So it's just that longer extended timeline. Otherwise he's stubborn, he's sweet, he is, you know, can get into things that he's not supposed to. We're just getting ready to install a baby gate because now with him being more mobile, he's into everything," stated Shannon.

"We're not going to let the fact that he has Down Syndrome hold him down, or let anything get in his way because he can do everything anybody else can do," says Shannon.

Shannon has the same dreams and goals for Hunter as her other two children. But the road will undoubtedly be longer and tougher.

"I think it's very important to, have as much warning as you can from the patient standpoint. This can be a very shocking experience that can really be emotionally challenging at the time of birth," says Dr. McFadden.

"It's okay to, you know, be angry and he is worth it. He is absolutely, 100 percent worth every second," said Shannon.

If you want to learn more about Shannon's story, check out the Hello, Hunter Facebook page.

Related Weblinks:
Hello, Hunter - The Facebook Page

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RHINELANDER - When people think first responders, cops, firefighters and EMTs usually come to mind. 

But the true first responder is often the person they'll never meet.

It's Nicole Lea's job to be at her best when you're at your worst.

"There's no other reason your calling us to say, 'Hey, hope you're having a great day.' It is their worst day when they're calling us," said Lea.

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RHINELANDER - The Northwoods Land Trust helps protect about 12,000 acres of natural lands in six northern Wisconsin counties.

That amount of conservation is a big job. But the organization employs just one full-time and two part-time staff members.

The Land Trust relies on the help of about 40 volunteers to accomplish its mission, volunteers like Nancy Richmond.

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RHINELANDER - Thanks to funds from one company, Wild Instincts in Rhinelander will get to expand its facility. The non-profit got a $4,400 Green Gift from Cellcom.

Wild Instincts was one of 22 organizations to get a 2016 Cellcom Green Gift. Cellcom gave almost $38,000 in funds out this year.

Wild Instincts has helped rehabilitate wildlife across the state since 2011. Director Mark Naniot explained that with a growing need to help animals comes a growing need for space.

The Green Gift program uses funds from Cellcom's cell phone recycling program to fund green non-profit initiatives.

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MADISON - Wisconsin may be the dairy state, but we've seen a decline in the number of dairy farms.

A report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the last year.

About 94-thousand dairy herds were active in the state as of October 1st.

Wisconsin Dairy Business Association President Gordon Speirs says the number of lost farms this year is low compared to previous years.

Annual losses reached as high as 1-thousand in some years.

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MADISON - About 30 percent of all absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin so far come from the state's most heavily Democratic counties.

The latest data posted on the Wisconsin Elections Commission website shows 55,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

21,700 have come in from three conservative counties near Milwaukee.

Over 183,000 were cast statewide.

Republican candidates typically must do well in those Milwaukee suburban counties to counter the Democratic votes in Milwaukee and Madison.

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GREEN BAY - MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has to accept results of the election, even though Trump hasn't said whether he will if Hillary Clinton wins.

WLUK-TV reports Thursday that Walker said following an event in Green Bay that "The bottom line is whether he does or doesn't, there's going to be a new president."

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THREE LAKES - With the presidential election right around the corner, voters will be changing history for the United States.

For voters in the town of Three Lakes, they'll also be voting for a library, town office and possibly even a police department reconstruction plan. Wednesday evening, supporters of the Demmer Library came together to inform others in the community about that vote.

Members of the Three Lakes community that are in favor of expanding the Demmer Library joined forces to call every single registered voter in the area. 

"Just informing people about the referendum and for others I've found a lot of support. There are a lot of 'yes' votes out there and we're definitely grateful for that," said supporter Colette Mahlerwein.

For Laura Wipperman, her vote has already been decided.

"I love the idea of a campus kind of concept where people could get from one building to the other easily and share some spaces because I believe that's going to save us money in the long run," said Wipperman.

When voters see their ballots in now less than three weeks, they will also be asked how they feel about the proposed expansion project with the library, town offices and police department.

"I feel very passionate about not only keeping the library in Three Lakes but allowing it to thrive," said Wipperman.

The first question voters will see will be, "Do you support up to nine hundred thousand ($900,000) additional taxpayer dollars being placed on the levy for the Library expansion?"

"A 'yes' vote on question one would have an estimated annual impact of $7/year per $100,000 worth of value on your home for 20 years," said Mahlerwein.

The second question voters will see will be, "Do you support up to 1.8 million additional taxpayer dollars being placed on the levy to replace the existing structure for the Town Office, Police Department and Community Building with a new smaller structure?"

"A 'yes' vote on question two would have an $11 a year increase on your home valued at $100,000 for the next 20 years," said Mahlerwein.

After they crunched the numbers, Mahlerwein's family didn't have to go far to find the money.

"I can find that in spare change at my house. My girls and I actually did a little challenge to see if we could find that in spare change and we did," said Mahlerwein.

For those making phone calls on Wednesday night, their main goal was to educate the voters so that they are prepared to make a decision.

"I hope that it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. I hope that the timing works out well because a presidential election brings out voters and that it will inspire people to vote and that they'll vote 'yes'," said Mahlerwein.

If you still have questions on the proposed plans, please call the Demmer Library at 715-546-3391.

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