In many ways, Rowan Sibthorp was a healthy, typical child. She loved Super Grover, hated going to bed at night (and waking up in the morning!), and played with her baby sister like she had her own puppy. She was a charming, content kid with radiant blue eyes that charmed strangers. Constantly in motion, she reminded her parents of pinwheels. She vacationed in Michigan with her family, attended school, and loved companionship.
Rowan was born with Trisomy 18, an incurable genetic disorder. Her parents, Bryan and Colleen, were warned by physicians that Rowan might not survive infancy. They worked closely with the nurses at Trinity Hospital, a neonatologist, the State of Illinois early intervention program, therapists, educators at home – they quickly assembled a strong network of family, friends, experts, and support professionals who could help the Sibthorp family achieve the best possible care for Rowan.
A major source of information and respite for the Sibthorps came from SOFT, the Support Organization for Trisomy 18. A non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with trisomies and their families. In addition to being a primary source of research and information, each year SOFT holds an annual conference for families in a city that has a children’s hospital, and arranges meetings with expert physicians for the families. Colleen described those meetings as “life changing.”
When she was old enough, Rowan attended the Special Kids in Pre-School (SKIP) program at Rock Island-Milan Community School District. She moved up to the Black Hawk Area Special Education Center, where she connected with peers and won over her teachers with her vibrant blue eyes.
Rowan passed away at age 8. Her memorial service sparked an outpouring of generosity from people whose lives were touched by Rowan. Her family was inspired to use the memorial gifts to establish the Rowan Margaret Sibthorp Fund at the CFGRB. Their wish is to give back to SOFT, the organization that provides “life changing” support to families with children like Rowan.
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