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Jacksonville woman honored for video showing Down syndrome no obstacle
Thu, 2011-10-27 17:11 — DSAOM .ORG
Moira Rossi had a message to share: Having a disability doesn't mean giving up your dreams.
And that message has reached a lot of people, including one of the stars of an Emmy Award-winning television drama.
Wielding her video camera with heartfelt honesty, the 24-year-old Jacksonville woman with Down syndrome showed what some might consider an obstacle is really inspiration in disguise.
"You can be anything you want to be if you work hard," Rossi said after finding out Wednesday that her video had won the National Disability Institute's My American Dream - Voices of Americans with Disabilities nationwide video contest.
That the announcement was made by one of her favorite actors, "Breaking Bad's" R.J. Mitte, live via Skype made it all the sweeter.
"I screamed. I was so happy," Rossi said after Mitte surprised her with the announcement while she was attending a meeting of fellow disability advocates from the On Campus Transition Program at the University of North Florida.
Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, plays the son of a meth dealer on the AMC series. He will serve as Rossi's mentor as she pursues a career as an actor, writer, director, producer or singer-songwriter.
"It's a great opportunity. I can't wait to work with him," Rossi said.
A daughter of Bernadette Moran and Frank Rossi, she is a graduate of the ARC Jacksonville Academy on Campus Transition program at UNF. She's studied theatre since she was 8. Before graduating last year, Rossi acted in campus productions including "Mountain of Peace" and an unrelated drama about date rape.
"She can do anything she sets her mind to ... and she is extremely passionate about making her dreams of being an international performer a reality," said Crystal Makowski, director of the On Campus Transition Program, which teaches people with disabilities how to live independently.
Rossi's video can be viewed at the institute website: dream.realeconomicimpact.org.
"People with disabilities are ... a little different from other people, but we can still do the same things," Rossi said of her video's focus.
In addition to having Mitte as her mentor, Rossi won $1,000 cash and an iPad.
"I'm going to put the money toward my career," she said.
The Down Syndrome Association of Miami is pleased to announce a new program for our children. We would like to invite children and teens 3 years and older to participate in complimentary Social Pragmatic Group speech therapy sessions...
In 2001, two parents of children with Down syndrome met through their genetic specialist with the idea of starting an organization for other parents to meet, share experiences, and get information about Down syndrome in Miami-Dade County...