The Brighterside of Down Syndrome was founded in 2006 by Jean Wiltz and Carrie Norris, proud moms of children with Down Syndrome. These two moms had first hand experience with the joys and the hardships of raising a child with individual, special needs. These friends knew the joy of celebrating each other’s victories, and the security of having support during inevitable challenges, making the journey with their child so much richer. Jean and Carrie saw a need in the central valley for an organization to connect and serve families living with Down syndrome.They understood the importance of connecting with other families on this adventure. TBODS was formed to provide support and connection for families in all of San Joaquin County, and at that time no other group in the area was dedicated to advocate specifically for persons with Down syndrome. Within months, TBODS applied for and received its non-profit number from the state. A constitution and bylaws were developed, and in 2009 TBODS was finally incorporated.
Our mission is to enhance the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. We promote awareness, understanding and acceptance of Down syndrome in California’s Central Valley. We CONNECT families, EDUCATE and empower advocates, CELEBRATE our children’s achievements and BRIGHT futures together!
Life is great on The Brighterside
As proud parents to children with Down syndrome, each board member of TBODS has first hand experience with the joys and the hardships of raising a child with unique needs. Elected officers serve at least a 2-year term.
President - Rob Beckhart
We are the Beckhart's. Rob, Megan, Josh (26), Jason (20), Caleb (10) and Bri (7). As president I hope to continue to deliver the great resource that TBODS has been for the many families in our area that currently live with Down Syndrome. I am passionate about expanding services we provide to raise awareness and acceptance in our communities. I love our new board!
Vice President-John Butcher
We're the Butchers. John, my beautiful wife is Angie, JessicaRaean (leave me alone with my books) is 10, ChristinaRose is our 8 year old who let her taekwondo black belt go to her head. Stevie (Mr. NO) is 5 and KaMakana (I love you until it no longer suits me) is 3. Two rat terriers Kaleiopuuwai is 11 and Joe is 9. We spend most of our free time at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Zoos.
Secretary- Jocelle Burdett
We're the Burdett's. Troy, Jocelle and our 3 girls, Chelsea (11) Olivia (8) and Kenzie (1). We are born and raised in Cali and love the beach! Sand, sun, waves are our jam! I run on Jesus and Diet Pepsi and it takes a lot of both to keep up with these 3 kids.
We are the Pippin's! Randy, Brandee, Aeddon, Hunter, Jaxon and coming soon Elijah! We are an adventurous, outdoorsy and sports loving family. Looking forward to what this year in the TBODS family brings us.
Event Coordinator- Caitlin Braden
We are the Braden's! Nick, Caitlin and mom to Chloe. Chloe is 18 months old. We love to travel and explore new places for the day, or a weekend getaway! We also love being involved in our church and hanging out with our family and friends.
Jean Wiltz - Mom to Aaron
In 2006, another parent and I co-founded TBODS. My son, Aaron, was born in 1976 and was diagnosed with Down syndrome. So, I have years of first-hand knowledge and experiences to share with other parents. In 2009, I retired after 33 years of teaching. Almost 30 of those years were enjoyed as an Infant Development Specialist working with families who has an infant birth to three years of age with a special needs diagnosis. Currently, I have a private practice and am a vendored IDS for our local Regional Center. My vision is for TBODS to provide a comfortable and relaxed environment for parents to share, brag, learn, encourage, develop friendships and gain information from each other.
I truly believe my family has been blessed by having Aaron. He definitely changed who I was becoming, and has made huge impacts on his father, two brothers and all other close friends and relatives. Aaron is God's gift to our family!