Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Sara Wolff is a motivational speaker and advocate for individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Sara herself has Down syndrome, and I interviewed her about her experiences growing up, becoming a public speaker, working as a law clerk and as a professional advocate, about the friendships and other important relationships in her life, and about her hopes for her own future. In this excerpt from our January 2013 interview, Sara shares a story from the summer before she started high school in Moscow, Pennsylvania.

    Sara Wolff: I was friends with this person for a very long time. She used to come over here a lot, like in the summer, in the winter, whatever, you know. But then that summer I get a phone call from her saying that she doesn't want to be friends with me anymore. "Now that we're going into high school, I don't want to be seen with you." I was white faced. I didn't know what to say. It was the summer, it was a really hot day, really hot, and I was really hot and pale. … But, that happened a really long time ago. ‘Till this day, me and her, we don't really talk as we used to. We're not really friends as we used to, but we sometimes say hi to each other when we do see each other, like how you doing, that kind of thing. I don't trust her as I used to.

    Nicki Pombier Berger: After that phone call, what happened, what did you say in response when she said that?

    Sara: Nothing. I couldn't speak. I just hung up the phone. Well actually I didn't hang up the phone. I kind of just, was just standing still. My mom thought, you know, I was about to pass out, ‘cause it was so hot that day. And I don't remember hanging up the phone, I think my sister hung up the phone or something, someone hung up the phone. But that was hard to get over. Because she was like my best friend. I told her stuff that I never told my parents.

    Nicki: Why do you think she called you out of nowhere like that?

    Sara: Her reputation, basically. That's why. Hanging out with a person with a disability, and that kind of thing. But, it's over, it's done with. A long time ago.

    Nicki: Starting high school after that, did you see her in the halls?

    Sara: Mm-hmm. I’d walk by her, that was it. Hi, how are you sort of thing. She had her own friends.

    Nicki: And she never brought it up with you again?

    Sara: Nope.

    Nicki: Did you tell other friends that that had happened?

    Sara: Probably, I just don't remember exactly.

    Nicki: Did you make a lot of new friends in high school?

    Sara: Yes. I used to volunteer time at special ed classroom in high school. I had a lot of friends there, too. One of my friends, her name was Jennifer Knoll, actually she was handicapped, and she was in a wheelchair, she was one of my good friends, and she passed away. I had another friend, Laurie, she had cancer and she passed away. So. Like I said, I had a lot of friends, but they're all gone now. Except one of my friends who I’ve been friends with since second grade. Her name is Kristy, and we did a lot of stuff together as kids. We lost touch with each other over the years, but we did graduate together. We are the same age now, she turned thirty in August. I’m still friends with her. Throughout the years, we used to have a pool party for third grade, and one of her sisters came over while her mom was picking her up. I don’t remember this story, she does, but I guess I was playing tag with her sister. And I don’t know who won, I’ve been trying to search for that answer.

    Nicki and Sara: [Laughter]

    Sara: Throughout all these years, I feel like I have a special connection to Kristy. Now she’s married, and has two kids. One of her kids has Down syndrome, her name is Julia. She is so adorable, I just want to take her home. She’s a cheerleader, she’s included in kindergarten now, so I’m extremely proud. They call me Aunt Sara now, which, I’m not their aunt but I wish I was. That’s beside the point, last year I got reacquainted with that girl I was playing tag with. So now I've got a friend who is younger than me, and it kind of feels good, ‘cause it makes me very superior.

    Nicki and Sara: [Laughter]

    Nicki: Well older or not, you are definitely wise.

    Sara: Thank you. I try to be.


    Read Sara’s stories here:

    This is a transcribed, edited excerpt from a life history interview I conducted for my thesis in the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University, in which Sara Wolff shared with me her life experiences and reflected on her role as an advocate for herself and others with disabilities. The full interview was conducted on January 5, 2013, in Moscow, Pennsylvania, and will be submitted to the Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley, for inclusion in the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement archive. I will also submit a methodological paper providing context for and analysis of my process conducting and sharing life history interviews with self-advocates with Down syndrome to the Academic Commons at Columbia University. If you would like to know more about my process, please contact me here. With gratitude to the National Down Syndrome Society for their early support of this project.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.