Welcome to My Personal Page
Welcome to my personal page for the 2019 Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community. Check out my story below and find out why your support means so much to me personally, and to my work at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh whose mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Empower. To Amaze.
Growing Up to Be Amazing Thanks to Brother Bear
In playful rompers that tied at the shoulders, paired with jelly shoes, and auburn hair tied in what my older sister affectionately called a "Pebbles" pony tail, I remember running around the immediate streets surrounding our three-story house in Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood.
Back then, I didn't realize he was any different. We played the same. We laughed the same. We cried the same. We complained the same (sorry, mom and dad).
He's my brother Justin, and he's the most amazing person I've ever known.
My mom was a licensed practical nurse (LPN, now retired) and my dad a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. Together, they had us three kids - Jessie, Justin and Jenna, born in that order. The three bears - Brother Bear and his two sister bears. I still call Justin "Brother Bear" to this day.
While we were born in that order, it's kind of a funny - and amazing, and goofy, and sad, and depressing, and joyful, and beautiful, and uplifting, and every adjective ever - story how I became younger sister, but older sister at the same time.
Growing up as a sibling to someone with special needs does that to you. Justin - again the most amazing person I've ever known - has an intellectual disability and autism. And because he lives with it, our entire family lives with it, too.
Justin, six years older than me, was the middle child, but often the focus. He was the focus of many things - my parents who were concerned about him and just doing their best to make sure he lives a happy life, classmates and neighborhood kids who thought it was okay to call him names and even throw bricks at him for being "different," and lastly - my focus and guiding light in life.
As brother and sister, we share a special bond. While that is true for many siblings, I feel with Justin and I, it's different - closer and more connected in a way, and maybe that's because he's different in all amazing ways possible.
I remember when I was little. I enjoyed playing house and teacher with my brother - he the student and myself the teacher. It's funny now, even at 30 years old, because I'm in that teacher role even more so as I try to help him through life's challenges - and there's been many.
I was a super shy, young girl, never very confident or sure of myself and my looks, my clothes and who I wanted to be. And with Justin, it wasn't always easy for me to hide. And for that, I am so thankful for him.
Justin has taught me true kindness, compassion, and patience. Without him, I would not be the confident, independent woman I am today. He's inspired me in so many ways, fueling my passions from volunteering for organizations like Make-A-Wish to working for The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit focusing on helping kids, particularly those with special needs, reach their full potential.
Your Support Matters
Thank you for supporting me during this year's Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community. It's your support that will generate funds for The Children's Institute to keep doing amazing things for amazing kids - many that remind me of my Brother Bear and who will benefit greatly from every donation, no matter the dollar amount. Join team Brother Justin & His Bears and support amazing kids at The Children's Institute! Even if you can't make it on walk day, your donations alone make a difference. Thank you!
Fundraising Honor Roll
Linn & Dale Landis
Made a donation to this event
Updated personal fundraising page
Raised $30 to earn t-shirt
Participated in last year's event
Raffle Tickets Earned
If you think this page contains objectionable content, please inform the system administrator.