About The

Down Syndrome
Support Team


About Us

The Down Syndrome Support Team was formed by a small group of parents that wanted to share the experiences of having a child with Down syndrome.  What started as meetings with several families has grown into a non-profit with more than 300 members and counting. The Down Syndrome Support Team serves individuals with Down syndrome and their families located in SE Michigan.   The group operates out of Washtenaw County, but holds activities both there and in the surrounding areas.

Meet The Board

Elaine Luther

Lives in:  Saline, MI

Family:  Married to Jeff,   Nathan 20yrs and Nick (w/DS) 18yrs

Pets:   Gibson (Golden Retriever) 1yr

Work:  Ford Motor Co for 32yrs – currently in Marketing

Hobbies:   Trying to keep up with family, pets & work!    Also, travel, yoga, cooking & reading.

Why I’m Involved with DSST:   I’ve always wanted Nick to have all the same opportunities as Nathan and to be seen and valued just as everyone else is.   DSST provides an outlet for me to give back, help others and change mindsets in the community not just for Nick but for all individuals with Down syndrome.   I’ve also made some really amazing friends who are now like family!!

Carrie Hanshaw

Lives in:  South Lyon, MI

Family:  Married to Jamie,  Nicole 20yrs, and Amanda (w/DS) 17yrs

Pets:   Winston (Bichon Frise) 3yrs

Work:  Ford Motor Co for 8yrs, Stay at Home mom/GS Leader/School Board member/Substitute teacher 20 yrs

Hobbies:   travel, running, cooking & scrapbooking

Why I’m Involved with DSST:  We joined DSST 17 years ago to meet families in the Ds community, learn about Ds from others living it, and to have friends who “get it.”  We couldn’t be happier with the DSST and it has introduced us to some of our best friends!

Kelly Curtis

Lives in:  Saline, MI.

Family:  Married to Kevin, son Clay is 21 years old, daughter Natalee (w/DS) is 18 years old, and youngest daughter Abby is 15 years old

Pets:  We have an Aussie doodle named Georgie and a Cockapoo named Benny.

Work:  I am a Kindergarten teacher and I’ve been teaching for 25 years.

Hobbies:  I enjoy working in the yard and hanging out with family.  My youngest daughter plays Travel Softball so we travel a lot.  I love watching softball!

Why I’m involved with DSST:  I joined when Natalee was very young.  It was a great way to connect with other families and build relationships.  DSST has offered a wide variety of opportunities for Natalee, and has allowed us to make strong connections with other families.

Dana Vespremi

Lives in:  Irish Hills, MI

Family:  Engaged to Rusty McKie, Son Jack 15 yrs and daughter Sofia (w/DS) 13 yrs

Pets:  Peanut (Toy Yorky) 13 yrs

Work:  Manager of Howard Hanna Ann Arbor office

Hobbies:   Travel as much as possible and spend time boating/tubing/skiing/fishing on our lake!

Why I’m Involved with DSST:   I believe it’s important to give back to an organization that has given so much to me and my family.  The comradery I have found through this group is invaluable and I’m grateful for the friendships I have made over the past 13 years!

Eleanor Kelley

Eleanor KelleyLives in: Saline, MI

Family: Married to Craig, Emilia 17 years, Alex ( w/DS) turns 16 in May.

Pets: Bailey ( Standard Poodle) 5 yr

Work: Litigation Partner in London. Since moving to Germany & now USA with Ford Motor Co, stay at home Mom. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels, Saline Social Services and Shift Leader at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee shop in Ann Arbor.

Hobbies: Travel, travel, travel. Music, having an eclectic taste, it’s always fun to go watch bands live with Craig. Theater both musicals and Plays.

Why I’m involved with DSST:
Our family’s involvement with DSST has been so important to us. When we first moved here, on my first parents’ night out I met some wonderful families and received so much great advice from families who had slightly older children, including finding a babysitter who would “understand our situation” and some of the challenges having a son with Down’s Syndrome brings. Now that we are established here it’s time to give back to the DSST community. I enjoy fundraising and making the Buddy Walk a success. The DSST is a huge part of our family life.

Adrienne Gardner-Tompkins

Lives in:  Brighton, MI

Family:  Myself, my oldest child Jacob (21), my daughter Ayla (13), and Makai (4)

Pets:  Rudy, the “old man,” is a black lab mix who is 13. Luna is some combination of Cattle Dogs and is almost 1. We also have 2 horses, Paco and Rez, who are 6 and 8 respectively.

Hobbies:  Anything to do with horses, I pretty much spend all of my time at the barn. I’m passionate about advocating for our children and developing my own skills.

Why I’m Involved In DSST:  My youngest son was born with Down Syndrome and I felt very alone. Our first NICU Nurse at Mott had a teenage daughter and was telling me all about the DSST and happened to be preparing for the Buddy Walk as we were setting in. The suggestion for DSST was repeated in the hospital paperwork. After leaving the hospital and getting comfortable with our routine, I came to some events and felt instantly welcome. I met so many people that truly surrounded us and formed deep bonds.

I am thankful for the opportunity to continue meeting so many amazing families at all stages of this walk. I’m grateful that we have a group that works tirelessly for inclusion and advocacy.

Kathleen Nickodemus aka Grandma Kathy

Lives in:  Ann Arbor, by post office; Saline, by school district

Family: Married to Dan for 39 years.  My sons are David, who is a Sommelier living in California, and Alex, who is married and is the father of my grandchildren, Jeremiah, and Evelyn.

Hobbies:  Dan and I like to travel, Iceland will be our next international adventure.  I am retired from sub-teaching, and am a former international short-term missionary.  I used to lead mission teams on short-term mission trips, most of which were English as a Second Language or music based.  I am an active member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell choir, and am a retired church and school handbell director.

Why I’m Involved with DSST:  I’ve been very involved with helping my son and daughter-in-law care for Jeremiah since birth.  The progression to being a part of the DSST, as I was able, seemed like the natural thing to do.  I have a history of working on auctions with my church and other organizations, so I really enjoy that aspect of my DSST participation.

Christie Taylor

Lives in: Manchester, MI

Family:  Husband Matt,  twin daughters Katherine and Elizabeth (17 yrs), and son Wil, who has Ds (16yrs)

Pets:  Woody, the best yellow lab (12yrs), cats Oreo and Grimace (6 yrs)

Work:  Paraprofessional for Early Childhood Special Education; Fitness Coach for Orangetheory Fitness

Hobbies:   Writing (personal blog and wrote a book about Wil’s early teen years), reading, exercise and peaceful country life.

Why I’m Involved with DSST:   I initially joined DSST when Wil was a baby so I could learn more about what Down syndrome meant for our son, and for our family. I also wanted to surround myself with proactive parents. There is no comparison to what I continually learn from talking to other DSST parents through each stage of Wil’s life. I’m greatly supported and grateful for this life, and I have a strong desire to support others so they may know this fullness of life raising a child with Down syndrome. DSST gives and grows together, and I’m thankful to be part of that.