Who we are: A group of energetic parents, concerned community leaders, and self advocates interested in enhancing the quality of life of individuals with Down syndrome in southeastern Wisconsin.
The mission of Wisconsin Upside Down is to empower individuals with Down syndrome by providing them, their families, and the community with the best available information, advocacy, and support. The goal of Wisconsin Upside Down is to offer life-long support for people with Down syndrome through programs ranging from prenatal diagnoses to issues facing adults with Down syndrome.
Wisconsin Upside Down offers a variety of support including: on-line parent support, sibling support, membership grants, adaptive art, dance and sports programs, programs for educators, prenatal support, training for medical professionals, financial aid to the families of cancer patients, who have Down syndrome and much more. The group offers many social opportunities for people with Down syndrome of all ages and hosts awareness events like, Kelly’s Upside Down Ball and the “Buddy Walk” each year. We host picnics, karaoke, ice cream socials and other parties. We offer speakers for schools and community organizations interested in learning about Down syndrome or promoting Down syndrome awareness.
Robbin Thomas Lyons, President and one of the three founders of Wisconsin Upside Down. Robbin has been an advocate for individuals with disabilities since the birth of her daughter, Kelly, who has Down syndrome. Robbin began her work during her daughter Kelly’s battle with cancer. When she could find no support available for families facing a dual diagnoses of Down syndrome and cancer, she started Kelly’s Upside Down Ball. The event has raised over $200,000 for these families since the first event in 2003.
Robbin is a board member of Down Syndrome Affiliates In Action, a national trade association of Down syndrome organizations across the US. She serves as the chairperson of the DSAIA annual conference. Robbin is also a member of The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC)
Lyons previously served as the Vice President of the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin and is an active music minister at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Nashota. She has been awarded the DIS Star award and the George Watts Civic Heroism Award for her work with Down Syndrome Advocacy. The most important group that Robbin belongs to is her family. She is married to Dana Lyons and she has three children, Reed, Regan and Kelly. She considers them to be her greatest commitment, greatest challenge and greatest gift.
Deb Baderas, Vice President,As one of the founders of Wisconsin Upside Down, Deb is back for a second term as vice president. Deb’s inspiration is her son, Mitch, who has Down syndrome. Deb started her work for people with Down syndrome in Virginia, serving as Buddy Walk chair for the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia (DSANV). She met co-founder, Robbin Lyons at a leadership seminar at the National Down Syndrome Congress. Learning that Deb was moving to Wisconsin, Robbin invited her to help launch Wisconsin Upside Down.
Deb’s stong committment to the community extends beyond the world of Down syndrome. She is the PTO president for Merton schools and an active Girl Scout leader. She spends her free time enjoying life to the fullest with her husband, Nick and children Mitch and Raegan.
Annette Esteves, Treasurer, Annette is a CPA Licensed in Wisconsin, who graduated from Lakeland College with a BA in Accounting. Annette AVP, Accounting Officer of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc. and brings over 23 years of financial accounting experience. She is married to husband, Israel and has two children, Angela and Bronson.
“When I was pregnant for the first time I dreamt I was going to have the most beautiful child, who was going to be adored by everyone and would bring happiness to everyone she touched. Those who met her would remember that she is loving, happy and has the sweetest smile. When my daughter Angela was born, I accepted my gift from God without hesitation. He gave me exactly what I asked for.”
After Angela was born and I started meeting other families with children just like her and realized that she is not so unique. Many of the people I’ve met with Down syndrome are warm, loving and have touched my heart.
As Treasurer of Wisconsin Upside Down Foundation, I have been given the opportunity to use my experience in accounting to give back to those most beautiful people who have changed my life in such a positive way.”
Other board are members are:
Julie Wiltzius, board secretary Is mom to Olivia, who is ending her long battle with luekemia and coming out a survivor. Julie wanted to come serve on the WIUSD board to say, “Thanks,” for all the support she recieved while Olivia struggled to beat cancer.
Cheryl Boden, Member at large. Cheryl brings her expertise as a small business owner (Baskin Robbins in Wauwatosa) and a parent. Her daughter, Tracy served as the first self advocate to the WIUSD board.