Krystian's Kolumn: Stepping Up for Down Syndrome and Meeting New Friends

By Connect Clarksburg Staff | October 16, 2017
Be YOU, the world will adjust.

Road trips are always filled with a level of anticipation, especially when you don’t know what to expect from a new setting or meeting new people. I had a terrible Thursday; losing 3 school assignments on my laptop. I was so tempted to allow it to tear down a great week of news and after a few deep breaths I stepped away and refocused on the weekend travels I had been planning for months as a Channel Kindness Reporter.
My week was great, two more donations for Shining Scars which meant more children’s books were going to Cuddles for Clefts, and I was working ahead on my assignments (or so I thought). But it was Thursday, so I just went home and started packing for myself and Ludo. I couldn’t wait to take my sweet puppy on the road to Richmond, Virginia to meet the lovely and ever so amazing Madeline Stuart. My heart was happy and no amount of college stress was going to diminish my joy in meeting a super model, media influencer and designer of her own line 21 Reasons Why.

Don’t know who Madeline Stuart is?
A quick google of her name and you will learn how this viral sensation has been featured on over 50 magazine covers leading her to pursue her dream, to be a high fashion runway model. Madeline is 20 now and will soon turn 21 in November.
I traveled to the Step Up for Down Syndrome event in Richmond Virginia, where she lead the Buddy Walk, modeled in a fashion show featuring her personal fashion line, and completed a meet and greet for guests. Traveling to the U.S. from Australia, Madeline works with a happy heart to pursue her dream, a dream her mom supports despite the difficulty involved.
Breaking into the world of professional modeling is hard for anyone, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion and becoming the first professional model with Down syndrome. To say I was in awe being around her and her lovely mom Rosanne is a complete understatement. All my life I have worked to overcome my own scar stigmas and stand up for the scar community, to redefine beauty from the inside. And to witness her shine onstage doing something she was absolutely born to do, moved my soul.
Madeline has an incredible work ethic, and proves that no dream is beyond reach if you are willing to put in the time, belief and heart it takes to make it happen. I look forward to the next few weeks of editing and will be applying for my passport. I can see a trip to Australia in my future. 

Krystian Leonard is the president and founder of the non-profit "Shinning S.C.A.R.S.". She is an award-wining author and a reporter for Channel Kindness.  Krystian is a graduate of Robert C. Byrd High School and attends West Virginia University. To contact Krystian, you can email her at or visit 

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