A Semiahmoo House Society volunteer has been selected as one of five Canadian Down Syndrome Heroes by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.
Delta resident Katie Johnson, 25, works at Semiahmoo House Society in South Surrey, prepping hot lunches during the week, as well as catering for special occasions.
The longtime volunteer – who has given her time to a number of organizations and events, including the Special Olympics – was nominated by her teachers, Dawn McKenna and Catherine Kubat, from the Down Syndrome Research Foundation (DSRF).
“We had explained to Katie that this was a national award, with many people being nominated, so there was no guarantee,” explained mom Lynn Johnson.
While in Hawaii with the society’s recreation and leisure program, Katie logged on to Facebook to learn she had been chosen from dozens of nominees.
“She was so surprised and excited,” her mom recalled.
Katie’s dedication to learning and career goals were just two of the many reasons she was selected as a Hero.
With her boyfriend of 10 years, Jason Ross, Katie has developed a small business specializing in the design of business cards and signs.
Most recently, she supplied signage for her sister’s wedding.
Through her work with the lunches at Semiahmoo House, she has also been honing her skills for a future culinary career.
“I want to be a cook,” she said.
In addition to the recognition of her work, Katie will receive $500 to donate to the charity of her choice.
In order to stretch her dollars, she has decided to donate $100 to each of five charities she holds close to her heart.
“I am donating to Special Olympics Surrey, because I have been participating for 15 years,” she said.
“Canuck Place to help out kids and families like (friends) Jess and Jayda, Canadian Cancer Society for (friend) David and Auntie Sheila, Semiahmoo House Society’s recreation and leisure program because they rock and DSRF South Surrey so that Mrs. Kubat can purchase something for her classroom.
“She has given us all so much.”
Through her actions, Katie aims to clear misconceptions about people living with Down syndrome.
In an interview with the CDSS, she writes that she wishes everyone could see people with Down syndrome as more than just people with a condition or disability.
“I would wish that everyone could see us for what we have, or are able to do, instead of what we do not have or are not able to do.”
For more information about the award recipients, visit www.cdss.ca