Megan Marked For Success

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Born with three different heart defects and placed in Intensive Care even before her mother could get a chance to bond with her, Megan Bomgaars was fighting for her life. Her mother, Kris Bomgaars was the last to be told that her daughter was Down Syndrome. This news caused Kris’ marriage to break up and the home to crumble. Her father walked away when Megan was just five weeks old. Now aged 23, Megan, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, is a self-advocate for persons with Down Syndrome. As the world celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, Megan was invited to Trinidad and Tobago, as the key note speaker at the Down Syndrome Family Network Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency, in celebration of its 5th anniversary. It was Megan’s first visit to the country.

“I love Trinidad everyone is so warm and friendly, I feel like am on my reality show,” she said with a chuckle, during an interview. In her speech entitled, “Don’t limit me”, Megan who also spoke on behalf of her peers, expressed her desires to be heard, to be respected and to be given a chance to contribute to society.

“I have a lot of skills, so don’t limit me. Treat me like a normal person and don’t try to change me. Help me to be independent. Teach us new things. Help us reach our potential, so we can become hard working and successful adults who can contribute to society. Don’t tell us we can’t. Show us how. Don’t limit me,” an emotional Megan shared.

The Star Actor of the A&E series, “Born this Way”, said she was inspired by Lady Gaga, to give her show that name.

Very passionate about standing up for the rights and respect of persons with Down Syndrome, Megan couldn’t hold back the tears as she recalled experiences, where she along with her peers were laughed at, jeered and called names. This triggered the idea for the reality show. The reality show, which is in its 2nd season, touches on the lives of seven young adults diagnosed with Down Syndrome, as they defy expectations and pursue personal and professional success. The Conference will be aired on the next season of “Born this Way” which is expected to be aired on A&E in mid-July.

“People need to get educated on Down Syndrome and treat us with kindness, we are human beings after all. We can work and we can go to school. There is nothing that we can’t do. We can graduate, get jobs, get married and have a family like anyone else,” Megan said. After graduating from college, Megan started her very own business called Similar sentiments were expressed by Republic Bank’s Manager, Group Corporate Communications Manager, Tisha Lee, as she delivered the Bank’s address at the Conference held at the Hyatt.

“The Bank’s aim continues to be, to help remove the labels and stigma attached to persons with Down Syndrome and to work with NGOs and other charitable organizations, to help champion the cause of many with disabilities.

“Our society seems to be frighteningly unaware of the fact that today’s child whether that child has Down Syndrome or not, is tomorrow’s adult. We must come together in the name of putting Down Syndrome in the spotlight, so that we as a nation, can uncover its potential,” Lee added.

Republic Bank’s partnership with the Down Syndrome Family Network, stems from its years of helping to make a positive difference in the lives of persons with disabilities. This support falls under the bank’s social investment initiative, the Power to Make a Difference.

Kris who interjected from time to time, while Megan was being interviewed said, Megan was born to succeed. “Megan had it tough growing up. So what you see here has nothing to do with overnight success,” she said. With early intervention, Kris said she was able to educate her daughter and get her treatments such as, Speech therapy and respiratory therapy, among others.

“I took her everywhere with me, and being an only child, I was able give her all the attention she needed,” Kris said. A Special Education Teacher, by profession, Kris said she was amazed by the way the other Down Syndrome children in Trinidad, treated with her daughter. “It was amazing, it brought tears to my eyes. As parents, guardians and caregivers of children with Down Syndrome we need to build a base, where our children can stand upon. Be their biggest cheerleaders, be proud of them, you brought them into this world and you need to help them to succeed, because they can.”

Kris said Megan, has taught her how to love unconditionally and encourages parents with Down Syndrome children, to give them that love and comfort they so desire. “It’s a hard and cold world out there. People don’t understand them. From the moment I laid eyes on Megan at hospital, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. I just wanted her to live, that was my prayer,” she said with a sob.

March 31, 2016
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