Shining through a disability

. November 1, 2015.

Bethany Wissler is a typical young lady. She works at Outback Steakhouse but she is an aspiring model and actress who loves to sing and dance. Bethany was even Homecoming Queen in her high school days, she also enjoys shopping and hanging with her bestie, Grace. The fact that Bethany has Down Syndrome takes a backseat to her bubbly personality and her exuberance for life. 

Bethany’s mother, Kathy Wissler, believes the reason  she is doing so well is because she was “mainstreamed” at a young age. She grew up the youngest of five children and the only girl. Her brothers did not give her any slack as the little sister. Throughout school, Bethany was in high functioning special education classes and regular classes. She’s always done well with reading and spelling. Kathy really pushed for Bethany to be in mainstream classrooms because she knew Bethany’s potential and she also knew that children with Down Syndrome mimic the words and actions of others around them. They really learn a lot from their peers. 

“We feel incredibly blessed to be Bethany's parents. Her love and extreme kindness for everyone has taught us to see the beauty in each person. Also to be happy and enjoy life.”
-Kathy Wissler (Bethany’s Mom)

Bethany was a cheerleader from second grade on, took acting classes, and participated in the Special Olympics at Whitmer High School. Recently she walked in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure and won a Promoting Inclusion Award for her short film in the 2015 Community Film Awards. 

Kathy advises parents of special needs children to advocate for them and to be involved in what is going on in the classroom. As they become adults, it is also important to find programs for them to be a part of and friends without disabilities to show them the way. Bethany and Grace have been best friends since second grade, and they still are inseparable. Bethany also has a boyfriend who is a wonderful young man.

Kathy attributes Bethany’s success to having an aide to help her in the classroom, getting her involved with other children at a young age to build her confidence, and friends and administrators who took Bethany under their wing.  Now, Bethany is surrounded by loving family, friends like Grace, and her manager, Melissa Cranson, and co-workers at Outback.