Karen Gaffney Speaking at Sky’s the Limit

Categories: Blog, Events, Meet Our Friends, News

karen_gaffneyWe are so excited! Just one week until we will be inspired and motivated by the amazing Karen Gaffney. Karen is speaking at our Second Annual Sky’s the Limit Gala in Seattle on May 21st. Learn more about the event here.

In case you haven’t heard of Karen, she’s a Down syndrome self-advocate with an impressive resume. From the moment she was born, Karen Gaffney began an incredible journey that continues today.  She is the President of a non-profit organization dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, the workplace and the community for people with developmental disabilities.  She is doing this by creating awareness and calling attention to the tremendous capabilities of people with disabilities. Karen accomplishes this through presentations and workshops delivered to audiences all over the country.

Karen graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon and earned a two-year Associates of Science degree from Portland Community College.

She successfully swam the English Channel as part of a six-person relay team in 2001 and has continued to complete challenging long distance open water swims to raise funds and awareness of what people with Down syndrome can do.

She swam 9-miles non stop across Lake Tahoe in 59-degree water to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Congress. She swam 8 miles non stop across Lake Champlain to raise funds for the North County Down Syndrome Association. In 2012, Karen led a team of open water swimmers on a six mile swim down the Columbia River in her home state of Oregon and raised $80,000 to help fund an  Aquatic Therapy Program at Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children.

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Karen Gaffney speaking at a TED talk. Click to see the video of her speech.

Karen travels the country speaking to a wide range of audiences about overcoming limitations and about what can be accomplished with positive expectations.  She advocates for inclusion in schools, for students with intellectual disabilities, sharing her own experiences.  Karen also advocates for physical fitness and regular exercise and healthy nutrition as well.  She is the first person with Down syndrome to deliver a TED talk.  She presented to one of the largest TEDx venues in the world in Portland Oregon in 2015.

Karen has received numerous awards and recognition for the work that she does, including an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Portland and induction into the CYO  Athletic Hall of Fame in Portland, Oregon.

Karen tackles any challenge she faces with determination and commitment, knowing she has limits, but not allowing them to limit her drive to succeed.  Oh, and by the way…. Karen Gaffney has Down syndrome. 

We cannot wait to hear what Karen has to say on May 21. Please join us at Sky’s the Limit to hear more about Karen’s journey. Buy tickets here.