ANDREA FARIS ROBERTS, 37
Andrea Faris Roberts figured her new son, born in April 2002, got his almond-shaped eyes from her husband. Then the doctor broke the news: Reece had Down syndrome. “I couldn’t stop crying,” says Andrea, whose prenatal tests were normal. “I thought, ‘What’s tomorrow going to be like?'”
The answer: Reece has not only enriched his parents’ lives but inspired his mom to save Down syndrome kids around the world. Researching her son’s condition, Andrea learned that in many countries, such babies are often abandoned and left in orphanages.
Launching Reece’s Rainbow in 2004, the former account manager wrote grant applications and networked with adoption agencies, ultimately raising $500,000 to fund adoptions of 250 children from Russia, China, Mexico and elsewhere. “Without Andrea’s program,” says Dr. Jane Aronson, head of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, “[many of] these children would die.”
And parents like John and Charissa Urban of Owasso, Okla., wouldn’t know the love of Ava, now 5, adopted from Ukraine in 2008. Weighing 19 lbs. and unable to roll over at age 3, today Ava gets around with a walker, cheered on by her four siblings. “She’s the center of our family,” Charissa says. “We’re so grateful.”
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