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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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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/29/2016

- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - Large machinery moved north and parking spots disappeared on Brown Street in Rhinelander this week.  The city's $9.8 million downtown reconstruction project continued its push, closing down Brown Street from Davenport to Rives Monday.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Just over a week ago more than 10 different agencies rushed out to rural western Oneida County to deal with a man threatening to blow up his house.

When crews got there, 60-year-old Kenneth Welsh was sitting on his porch with a long gun. He held up police up in a standoff for the next three hours.

Last week he was charged with attempted first-degree homicide along with other felonies.

Welsh appeared in court Friday to hear the judge's decision regarding whether the prosecution has presented enough evidence to move forward with the case against him.

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MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.

"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.

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