Willard woman with Down Syndrome makes, donates quilt to spread awareness

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

WILLARD, Wis. (WEAU) - Hundreds are set to gather in Chippewa Falls Saturday to raise awareness for Down syndrome.

Mindi Frenette has a unique connection to the event, by sewing quilts to raffle off at the event.

“It's been amazing how she has just started sewing a simple line and has just gone from there. She has made quite a few quilts, some quite difficult and just really enjoys it,” Mindi’s mom, Shari Smith said.

Smith said Mindi found her new passion in life about six years ago when she owned a quilting shop in Neillsville.

“It's really brought Mindi and I a lot closer to be able to do this together. We really enjoy sewing together,” Smith said. “She’s made probably 10 to 12 quilts, pillow cases, bags, purses.”

Mindi has given several quilts away to family, but two more can be won on Sunday at an event close to her heart.

“I just want to let them know that they're not the only ones born with down syndrome,” Frenette, who was born with Down syndrome said.

She plans on sharing that message at the Down syndrome Awareness Walk in Chippewa Falls with her husband of seven years, Joe Frenette, who also has Down syndrome. She said they met at a football game when Joe was in high school.

“He said hi to me and he introduced me; his name was Joe and when the game was over with, he went to his mom's house and he said, ‘I found my first love.’” Mindi said she felt the same way.

“If I would have seen a couple like (Mindi and Joe) when Mindi was little I think we would've been very encouraged by that. Even that they both graduated from high school. When she was born, that wasn't even a possibility that that could possibly happen,” Smith said.

“There's nothing they can't do. They may not be able to do it today, but they'll do it tomorrow.”

“Don't judge (people by) what they are and just be yourself,” Mindi said.

Check-in for the Seventh Annual Chippewa Valley Down Syndrome Awareness Walk is set to start Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Irvine Park in Chippewa falls. The raffle for two of Mindi's quilts is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.


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