MADSS existed in a very informal way for over ten years before incorporating as a non-profit. In the beginning, MADSS consisted, not surprisingly, of families with young children who have Down syndrome. The families came together for support, to share information, and to socialize. Recruitment of new families happened by word of mouth and the group was loosely knit. In 2002, the first Madison Area Buddy Walk was organized. The walk was an unexpected success. Inspired by the clear desire of the community to find ways to support and rally around people affected by Down syndrome, a handful of committed and visionary members decided to increase the capacity of the group to serve families and individuals.
The MADSS Board went on to write the articles of incorporation and petition for 501(c) 3 status in early 2003. A Board of Directors was formed and MADSS started a newsletter and began offering more organized social outings. Also in 2003, Rhonda Conway, the mother of a child with Down syndrome, organized a golf outing in Wisconsin Dells and decided to donate the proceeds to MADSS. Hence, the MADSS Golf Outing was born and continued to grow under the guidance of Rhonda & Tim Wing, also a parent of a little boy with Down syndrome. The outing moved to the Madison area in 2006 and continues to grow each year. In 2004, MADSS began hosting Parent Empowerment Meetings aimed at providing opportunities for parents to get together and learn more about issues important to them. The meetings cover topics of interest to the group and offer a babysitting stipend to enable both parents to attend if they wish. In 2005, MADSS created a New Parent Packet and began speaking to medical providers about how to best support parents throughout the prenatal and birth experience.
It is MADSS’ goal that every family who gives birth to an infant with Down syndrome in our area be given the best care possible, and has access to information and support in a timely manner. We ask hospitals to provide New Parent Packets immediately so that new parents can start to access MADSS services as soon as they are ready. We also offer parent-to-parent visits as soon as new families feel ready. MADSS has expanded our presentations to include other groups, including providers, educators, students and conference attendees.
In 2005, MADSS took the important step of hiring staff. Chris Andrews became MADSS first Executive Director in November 2005. Jennifer Rindfleisch joined MADSS as the Program & Event manager in June 2006. By hiring staff to manage MADSS day-to-day operations and assist the Board in achieving its vision and goals, MADSS has been able to expand its activities exponentially. When Chris stepped down in November of 2006, Andrea Wipperfurth transitioned from Board member to the Executive Director role.
As MADSS programs and fundraising efforts have expanded, so has the Board itself.
Each new Board member brings unique skill, experience, and passion to their service of MADSS. The Board meets regularly and holds an annual retreat to cultivate the mission and vision of the upcoming calendar year. In 2006, the Nominating committee, committed to seeking out and cultivating a continual influx of new MADSS leadership, was created. Each spring, the Nominating committee recruits and recommends new Board members who will continue the growth and development of MADSS into the future. In April 2011, the MADSS Board appointed Sterling Lynk as Executive Director. He resigned in July of 2014.
Moving forward the MADSS Board is excited to embark on a period of renewal for our organization. MADSS Board members are taking on a greater role in the day to day operations of the organization in order to maximize the financial resources devoted to programs, events and services.