Down Syndrome Doesn’t Define Her


Erin Mullen

Mia Moreno (12) portions out the M&M’s in a measuring cup.

Erin Mullen, Editor

Down syndrome affects upwards of 400,000 people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every 700 babies are born with this disability, but senior Mia Moreno doesn’t let her disability define her.

During her free time, she loves to dance, shop, listen to music, and spend time with her family, especially her niece and nephew. 

Although many challenges come with Down syndrome, Moreno continues to live her life like any average teenager. 

“Mia doesn’t really let Down syndrome slow her down,” teacher Melissa Hauschild said. “She knows she has to work harder or take more breaks, but she also knows she’s an overcomer and can do anything she puts her mind to.”

Moreno is described to be a light in everyone’s room.

“Mia has given anyone she meets so much love and energy,” Moreno’s mom, Becky Moreno said. “She’s never mad, always happy.”

Amongst all of the challenges Moreno faces, she continues to live her life to the fullest.

Mia has taught us she has no limit,” Becky Moreno said.

Mia loves making jokes and laughing. She honestly just puts me in a good mood.

— Mackenzie Kluesner (12)

In fact, Moreno is involved in YADC (Youth Association for Disabled Citizens), wrestling and basketball cheer, and Special Olympics while being employed at R Place in Masonville and Pizza Ranch in Manchester. 

Moreno participated in a work study at Aunt Emmy’s during Career Exploration. She wiped down tables, helped wash dishes, and stocked supplies. 

Emily Kelchen, Aunt Emmy’s owner, loved the attitude and stories Moreno brought in. 

We enjoyed hearing of her wrestling and basketball cheerleading adventures and her love for makeup and family,” Kelchen said.

Since then, Moreno has become a huge coffee drinker.

“We have a bit of a friendly battle going every morning regarding whose coffee is better,” Hauschild said. 

Hauschild explained Moreno brings laughter, humor, and a smile to the classroom.

Moreno also enjoys being around her friends, especially Mackenzie Kluesner (12), who  she met in her autos class. Kluesner cooks with Moreno on Fridays. They’ve made No Bake Cookies, S’mores, Protein Balls, and Pretzels with M&M’s.

After the first semester, Moreno’s best friend, Hannah Boeckenstedt, graduated. Kluesner knew Mia was scared of losing her best friend, so she took the initiative to be friends with Moreno.

“I stepped in and told her I would hang out with her during my open third hour,” Kluesner said. “Mia loves making jokes and laughing. She honestly just puts me in a good mood.”

Moreno plans on graduating at the end of third term with the possibility of enrolling in a college program at NICC.

She can do anything if she wants it bad enough,” Becky Moreno said.