The goal and mission at Ruby’s Rainbow is to grant scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes, helping them achieve their dreams of higher education while spreading awareness of their capabilities and general awesomeness.
The moment she held her second daughter, Ruby, for the first time, Liz Plachta knew she wanted the world to see what she saw in her. Liz didn’t know much about Down syndrome, yet she already knew this perfect little human she was holding was going to change the world’s perception of those “rockin’ it”…just like Ruby.
A Letter From Liz, Co-Founder of Ruby’s Rainbow and Ruby’s Mama:
I always joke that Ruby came “early, tiny and rockin’ an extra chromosome.”
They told me she had Down syndrome before I got to hold her for the very first time, and if I am being honest — I didn’t know anything about Down syndrome at the time of her birth. We got to take her home after about 3 weeks in the NICU, and the only thing I really knew about Down syndrome was what Ruby showed me: She was strong. She was capable. She was determined. She was smart. And she was adorable.
But of course as a new mama on this unexpected journey, I wanted to know EVERYTHING there was to know about Down syndrome…so when I got home, I went out to the library and checked out literally every book I could find. But you know what? None of the books depicted this perfect little human that I watched grow every day. This perfect little human who worked so incredibly hard every single day to be the best lil’ version of herself she could be. None of them talked about all the amazing things she was going to do with her life, the possibilities or even the opportunities that might be available.
She wasn’t even a few months old, but she had already taught me so much about resilience, acceptance and patience. I knew there was more. I knew she was more, was better, and was capable of amazing things…things that books and society weren’t telling me about. So it was at that moment I shut the books and decided to let her guide me and show me the way. Ruby’s future was not going to be determined by some outdated book. I was going to do my best to give her all the right support to help her grow and thrive…but only she would determine how high she would fly.
The moment I held Ruby for the first time, I just knew I had to do something to show the world what I saw in my daughter. It was almost like a lightning bolt shot out from her heart to mine, and I had this insane bright light and energy waiting to burst out of my soul. After getting her home and settled, I really started wondering about the possibilities for her future. I figured I could control the “now” by being sure she got the therapies she needed, working with her, including her in every aspect of our life…but what about the future? I knew I wanted Ruby to have all the same opportunities her big sister may have someday…including college.
I remember so clearly coming to my husband when Ruby was about 6 months old and saying, “I think I want to help someone with Down syndrome go to college.” We didn’t even know if people with Down syndrome were going to college, but I knew in my heart Ruby was capable of amazing things and I wanted to help someone rockin’ it — just like her — go and do amazing things. This is when Ruby’s Rainbow was born. Well, actually, the organization was likely born the first time I held Ruby…I just didn’t know it then. Her spirit and determination have inspired us to start a non-profit and stand up and shout as loud as we can that people with Down syndrome are CAPABLE.
We really and truly hope you enjoy following along! We are so proud of each Rockin’ Recipient and honored to be able to help them in some way on their journey toward higher education and independence! It makes our hearts smile so big!
Take a minute to learn more about Ruby’s Rainbow, meet some of our Rockin’ Recipients AND meet Ruby, the inspiration behind it all, in this video featured in the 2015 Film Frenzy.