Episode 220 – Unstoppable Best Buddies, Including Mom with Jessica & Dorlean Rotolo and Lauren Abela

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In Episode 156 I had the honor to speak with Garett Tomasek, U.S. leader of Best Buddies. Garett was introduced to me and the Unstoppable Mindset by accessiBe’s own Sheldon Lewis, also a past guest on the podcast. Sheldon also introduced me to an incredible woman who is a Best Buddy in Canada. Meet Jessica Rotolo who is a talented and fearless 25-year-old model, artist, self-advocate, actor and dancer, who has a passion for performing on film and stage. Jessica was born with Downs Syndrome. I empathize a great deal as my parents, like Jessica’s, were told that she would be a burden on them. As with my parents, Jessica’s parents, especially her mom, fiercely opposed the idea that their daughter could not grow up to do whatever she wanted with her life. Along the way, Jessica was introduced to Best Buddies Canada where she met one of her pier buddies, Lauren Abela.

Under the Best Buddies program, a Best Buddy like Jessica gets a new “pier buddy” every year. These people are volunteers who choose to become friends and mentors for persons with development or intellectual disabilities. In the case of Lauren and Jessica, their relationship flourished, and they became and still are clearly best friends, and Jessica’s mom, Dorlean is also part of the team. Mom refers to herself as Jessica’s Momager and prefers to work behind the scenes. However, she clearly is a significant part of the conversation you get to experience on this episode.

Clearly these three are an unstoppable force. Lauren is a leader in Best Buddies and Jessica is an international ambassador for the program. Check out this episode and be ready to be inspired and encouraged.

About the Guest:

Jessica Rotolo
Jessica is a talented and fearless 25-year-old model, artist, self-advocate, actor and dancer, who has a passion for performing on film and stage. Jessica was born with Down syndrome and is a role model for her community as well as an Ambassador for DramaWay, Best Buddies Canada and Best Buddies International. As the recipient of several awards, Jessica has also been recognized in the Ontario Legislative Assembly and the Canadian House of Commons for her outstanding international commitment in advocating and fundraising for her Down Syndrome community. She has performed in several musical drama productions throughout her career at DramaWay, a Toronto drama company serving the All-Abilities community. She has been a guest on several Canadian News Stations and Talk Shows. She has appeared in numerous campaigns for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and a Documentary called “Employable Me Canada” not to mention a number of other fashion shows and photo shoots, including the Fashion Arts Toronto show and with designer 3ndolith.

Dorlean Rotolo

As her “Momager,” Dorlean is committed to supporting her daughter, Jessica, in all aspects of her career of modeling, acting, dancing and her advocacy for Best Buddies Canada, Best Buddies International and the Down syndrome community at large.

Lauren Abela

Lauren is a recent psychology graduate and now Student Recruitment Officer at the University of Guelph-Humber. She was first introduced to Best Buddies in high school at St. Jean de Brebeuf in Vaughan, Canada. Lauren fell in love with the atmosphere and purpose of the organization, and soon took on greater leadership roles including co-founding her own chapter with Jessica and becoming Canada’s first Global Ambassadors for Best Buddies together. Because of Jessica, Lauren chose her thesis research topic to be called, “Down Syndrome Acceptance: Changing Attitudes Through Interventions.” Through her research, she found a positive relationship between disability education and inclusionary attitudes. Lauren is grateful to have attended university on a full scholarship as a Founders’ Academic Merit Scholarship recipient, and made the most of her last 4 years as an active member in the community. Upon graduating, she received her school’s top graduation awards, including Gold Medallion for Leadership Excellence and Michael Nightingale Community Enrichment Award. Presently, Lauren plans to pursue further education to become a Registered Psychologist and continue her research assistantship with her former professor’s non-profit, Teaching & Learning Research (TLR) In Action, studying the accessibility of post-secondary classrooms for the visually impaired. In the meantime, she travels around Ontario promoting her school, encouraging students to apply for scholarships and consider joining Best Buddies. Best Buddies taught her that friendships are not something to be taken for granted, and the power of giving kindness to someone who needs it most holds immeasurable impact.

Ways to connect with Jessica, Dorlean & Lauren:

  1. Best Buddies Canada Instagram: https://instagram.com/bestbuddiescanada?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
  2. Best Buddies Canada Website: https://bestbuddies.ca
  3. Jessica’s Instagram: https://instagram.com/jessica.rotolo20?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
  4. Jessica’s Linktree Website: https://linktr.ee/Jessica.Rotolo20
  5. Shop Jessica’s Cards: https://kidicarus.ca/product-tag/jessica-rotolo/
  6. About the Host:
    Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.


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Transcription Notes:

**Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.

**Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, hello once again and welcome to unstoppable mindset today we get to do something a little bit different, something we haven’t done a lot, although when we do it. It’s kind of fun. And that is we have more than one guest on the podcast today. Several months ago, we had a guest on Garrett Tomasek, who is involved with best buddies in the United States. And if you listened to that episode, you had a chance to learn about Best Buddies. And he was introduced to us by Sheldon Lewis here at AccessiBe well. Along the way, Sheldon also introduced us introduced us if I could talk I’d be in great shape but introduced us to Jessica Rotolo and Dorlean Rotolo and Lauren Abela. Lauren is a best buddy Jessica is a best buddy of Lauren’s. And we also have, as I said, other people involved in this whole thing specifically Darlene, who is Jessica’s mom, she prefers to be called her momager. And we’re going to talk all about that. But Jessica is involved in a lot of different events. Jessica is a model, she’s an actress, she does a variety of different kinds of things. And she was born with Down syndrome. So we’re going to talk about all of that. And we’re going to talk about best buddies and do whatever it is that we need to do to make this a fun time. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. And I think I’m going to start with Jessica and say welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 03:00
Yes, I’m great. I’m great. I go. ahead, go ahead. I am 25 years old, and I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and I was born with Down syndrome. And right here is a buddy of mine, a pure buddy who I love.

**Lauren Abela ** 03:21
Lauren. Jessica is hugging me right now. I’m Lauren.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 03:24
And my mom who I live with

**Michael Hingson ** 03:29
Hug your mom too.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 03:30
And I’m getting hugs right now.

**Michael Hingson ** 03:33
Okay, just checking for

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 03:35
being just as mom is the amount of hugs we get. Well, that’s kind of I once said on a documentary she did that she she would be a professional hugger.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 03:45
And that was called employable me. And that was when I was looking for a job and they helped me actually get a job at Navara the costume rental store. And well, so they do and they also helped me get my art and to Christmas cards.

**Michael Hingson ** 04:04
Oh, so do you have a job today? Today?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 04:07
I do. I actually work at my preschool. Centennial. Jobcentre. Ah, okay, I am a path forward classroom assistant there because I went to Centennial when I was a kid, a baby, a baby, a

**Michael Hingson ** 04:27
baby. Well, that’s kind of cool. Well, Lauren, let’s welcome you also to unstoppable mindset. How are you?

**Lauren Abela ** 04:34
I’m doing good. I’m nervous but excited.

**Michael Hingson ** 04:38
Don’t be nervous. No need to be nervous.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 04:43
You don’t bite do you?

**Michael Hingson ** 04:45
Never anxious. Just food. And humans are not food. So no. Well, Lauren, tell us a little bit about you kind of growing up. Why don’t you start us off with that. We learned already a little bit about Jeff because she’s 25, and she was born with Down syndrome, we’ll come back to that. But tell us about you, Lauren. Yeah,

**Lauren Abela ** 05:05
so I was born, normally developing, I have a twin brother and two older sisters, born and raised here in Ontario, Canada. And I first got involved in high school with best buddies in the 11th grade. So halfway into my career, and I haven’t left since. So

**Michael Hingson ** 05:24
how did you discover Best Buddies?

**Lauren Abela ** 05:26
So I know that the club had a presence around my high school. And they would often host events and have tables set up during club fairs, and they would have big sales. So within those first couple years, I was getting familiar with the organization. And then finally, in the 11th grade, they were recruiting people for to join the Club. And then after that, I was like, you know, why not? What’s, what’s stopping me from joining and just and making new friends. So that was why I wanted to go and join and was that hope of making new friends and here I am today, so incredibly blessed to have my truly lifetime best friend Jessica?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 06:06
Yes. And I started best buddies in grade nine of high school. And I’ve been in Best Buddies for 10 plus years. And it’s been a fun ride through it. Oh,

**Michael Hingson ** 06:24
well, how did you discover Best Buddies? We heard how Lauren did. But Jessica, how did you discover Best Buddies?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 06:30
I actually heard about it from a teacher in class that Emily Chang was an is her name. And she told everyone about it. And I said, oh, oh, join. And I heard of I joined and I loved it ever since.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 06:57
Now. How to highland park.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 07:00
Yeah. To Highland Park High School. Yeah. How

**Michael Hingson ** 07:05
close in age are you to learn and Jessica?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 07:08
Well, I’m 25 and Lauren is 22 turns.Okay, four months?

**Michael Hingson ** 07:13
Yeah. All right. So, so you and how old? How old? Were you, Jessica, when you were in the ninth grade and started voting and best? You were four. Okay. My gosh. Okay. So, you started well, before Lauren, how did you guys meet and become best buddies.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 07:31
So we met when I went to Humber College, when I went there. And I, she called Best Buddies, Canada. And she wanted to join, she wanted to start up a Best Buddies group up there. And I called Best Buddies, Canada. And I said that I want to start up as buddies up there as well. So best buddies, Canada basically. put us together. And we met first at Humber, at the Starbucks there, and we decided to start up a Best Buddies chapter.

**Lauren Abela ** 08:14
And, Michael, just to add on to that, if you’re not, if, you know, just to share some background information that’s based Canada is quite a small leadership team. So we had reached out to different people within the organization. And then in office, they’re like, Hey, someone from Hungary reached out. Yeah. Someone from the University of Guelph Humber reached out. So it was the team over at the space Canada. Deanna and Vicki who connected Jessica and I together. Yes.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 08:40
And the university and the college are right beside each other. They are Yeah, so.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 08:46
So the Humber College actually went to 12. Humber University University.

**Michael Hingson ** 08:50
Right. So did you get a college degree, Jessica?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 08:57
Well, I was in the sea ice program there. And that is a two year program for people with special needs, like me and other people who have autism and other any

**Michael Hingson ** 09:14
special special special needs. Yeah,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 09:16
it’s a two year program. Yes,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 09:18
a two year program. And I was in person for a little bit and then COVID happened. And I was online, which I did not like. Yeah, yeah. But I also did a documentary in 2018 called employable me. And that’s when I got the job and the cards, but they also said that I was eligible to graduate two years before 2015. And that meant that if I graduated, then I would have gone to Humber College in person all throughout

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 09:56
Europe, but then I don’t think you’ll remember Lauren. Yeah. Yeah, I meant to be,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 10:01
but it was meant to be. But I went, I deferred it for a year and then an orphan. Yeah. Worked out.

**Michael Hingson ** 10:08
Yeah. Sodid you go back to college and finish or?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 10:12
Well, I defer it for a year. And they went to Humber what engineering.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 10:18
She got accepted. But then she deferred the acceptance for one year because I had a number of things she was doing. So then she went to college for the two year program. Okay. The second year was COVID. So yeah, she was

**Lauren Abela ** 10:31
Jessica. I can’t imagine what if you had beat me to starting the chapter? Chapter. Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 10:40
So after COVID, so you haven’t gone back and finished your second year yet? No,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 10:45
no, I’m done now. Oh, no,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 10:47
you finished? She finished it online,

**Michael Hingson ** 10:49
online. Okay. Okay. And I

**Jessica Rotolo ** 10:51
graduated online as well. Cool.

**Michael Hingson ** 10:55
So you virtually walked across the stage and got here. So Dorlean, tell us about you a little bit, kind of your life growing up, and then certainly having the opportunity to be with Jessica, and being a mom and all that. This has obviously been different for you than probably what you expected?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 11:20
Oh, absolutely. I grew up in Saskatchewan and rural farming community. My father was a farmer, my mother, a nurse and, you know, had a lovely life in not in Saskatchewan, and then move to the mountains. And then after when I was living in Banff, I decided I wanted to move out to Ontario, so moved here and luckily met my husband. And you know, we had Jessica and it certainly was a shock like most families when you have a surprise that you weren’t expecting, and but we wouldn’t change Jessica in any any possible way. She is a force to be reckoned with. Yes. And the Down Syndrome has not stopped her from leading an unbelievable life. I

**Jessica Rotolo ** 12:06
do anything anyone else can do. Yeah, she’s

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 12:09
very, very accomplished, young lady. And we’re incredibly proud of her. And my first time that actually I went to a hotel to a, an event in Vaughan, which is north of Ontario. And I didn’t know it, but it was a Best Buddies event that was being put on. And I remember having a t shirt from it that I eventually just gave away because I’m like, I don’t know why I have this t shirt anymore. And then lo and behold, when Jessica, signs up for Best Buddies, I’m like, Oh my gosh, I should have kept that T shirt. Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 12:46
Yeah. Well, so do you have other children? Yes,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 12:49
we have one daughter. Her name is Bobby. And she’s doing her PhD in Waterloo, Ontario, and very proud of her. She started her PhD when she was 22 years old. And that’s in public health. And yeah, she’s doing very accomplished younger woman as well.

**Michael Hingson ** 13:05
Jessica, are you gonna go get a PhD?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 13:08
I don’t know. Yeah. To a makeup course. So I want to learn everything to know that is about makeup.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 13:20
Well, when you go into her bedroom at Sephora.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 13:26
She’s got a makeup to

**Michael Hingson ** 13:29
what to tell people a little bit about Jessica. Jessica is a model. She’s an artist, self advocate, actor, and dancer. And you have performed in a variety of different kinds of things that I do want to get to all that. But the point is that you are definitely doing a lot of stuff. So maybe a PhD isn’t in your future, and that’s okay. Or you might decide down the line that you want to be more of an academic, but that’s probably a whole lot more boring than being an artist and a dancer. And especially, I speak from experience being a self advocate. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so you

**Jessica Rotolo ** 14:08
I am a self advocate for Down syndrome and Best

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 14:12
Buddies and alopecia and alopecia because

**Jessica Rotolo ** 14:15
in 2014, I was on a pill for sleep disorders and I caused alopecia.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 14:25
Yeah, target all patients.

**Michael Hingson ** 14:28
Tell us about that. Tell us what that is. How

**Jessica Rotolo ** 14:31
alopecia is hair loss. So I was completely bald from head to toe. Like hair, eyebrows, lashes everywhere.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 14:42
And then so we after nine months from the pill Jessica passed out. So we took the took her off the pill and then within eight months her hair started growing back. Yeah. But then there were still patches that were not coming back. So Jessica was would go to Sandy Brooklyn. hospital. Yes. And every three months is hollow just

**Jessica Rotolo ** 15:03
there. We did 50. So it is a 50 steroid injections and my head and eyebrows. And that did not work

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 15:14
every three months. And then very luckily Pfizer came out with a trial test pill, which Jessica was accepted to three and a half years ago. And so she’s been going to a dermatologist and she’s on that. And it’s grown her hair to 32 inches long.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 15:30
Wow. And growing and growing. And going with the pill. Yeah.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 15:36
And now we’re doing a documentary on my hair grow hair loss and hair growth journey. And I’ll be cutting my hair off shoulder length, and I’ll be donating my hair as a wig to someone who has

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 15:58
alopecia. So continental hair is where Jessica bought a number of weeks when she had her hair loss. And they are graciously part of the documentary with Sunnybrook Hospital. And they will, Michael Suba. His name is and he will be donate making a way out of justice hair that will be donated to a young woman who is suffering from alopecia.

**Michael Hingson ** 16:22
Oh, that’s that’s pretty cool. Yeah.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 16:25
And she’s getting her hair cut when I started taping this weekend.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 16:31
We can Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 16:32
What’s the new documentary

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 16:33
gonna be about? Well, Jessica’s hair loss and regrowth journey. Okay. And

**Michael Hingson ** 16:38
when will that be released?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 16:42
For spring, spring? Because we’d like to enter into Tiff and all the film festivals, and then also put it into the educational system. Yes. So it’d be a 12 to 15 minute documentary. Yeah. So we’re very excited about it. We have a wonderful director named Scott drecker. Who is, is doing all the filming will

**Jessica Rotolo ** 17:02
love him. Yeah. I also did a couple of public service announcements.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 17:09
And that’s how we know him. Yeah, that’s how we did that was for the Down Syndrome.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 17:15
Society. That’s right,

**Michael Hingson ** 17:16
so. So Dorlean, what is best buddies meant for you? Clearly, and I know that Jessica and Lauren have thoughts about that, and we can talk about that. But I’m curious, what does it really mean for you?

Well, the biggest thing for me was friendship. When Jessica joined, the friends that she made, and still has connected with is unbelievable. They are women that now our doctors are going to medical school. They are all very accomplished young women, and they still keep in touch with Jessica. So to me, it’s friendship, this is what best buddies really is. For our family, and but also it’s the, it’s to the it’s given just so many unbelievable opportunities to become a leader, they they have given her so many different ways where she can just shine and and and be that leader that we knew was in there. Because she hasn’t gotten it from other other places, associations, but Best Buddies has just let her shine. I’ve been to two

**Jessica Rotolo ** 18:29
leadership conferences in Toronto, Canada, twice. One was a sleepover and when was a day thing?

**Michael Hingson ** 18:39
And what were the leadership conferences about or what did you accomplish there?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 18:44
Um, basically how to make new friends and learning how to speak in front of large crowds.

Well, there you go. And be an advocate. Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 18:58
So Lauren, do you go to on any of these events with Jessica?

**Lauren Abela ** 19:04
Yes. So my first one similar to justice story was in high school. So before we had met, but you know, just over the summer, we went to the International Leadership Conference.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 19:13
We did and that was our first one in person. Yeah, first, where was that? Indiana?

Oh, it’s an Indiana

**Jessica Rotolo ** 19:23
in the US.

**Michael Hingson ** 19:24
I have. I have close friends. So we live in Bloomington. It’s beautiful.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 19:29
Believe how stunning it was just loved every minute because Joe and I went as well. Yeah. And we had a mini vacation while they were off working and getting up at six and

**Lauren Abela ** 19:42
made sure I was up on time. Mondays but so memorable.

**Michael Hingson ** 19:48
This is where I know Best Buddies is is a miracle organization because there’s never a day that just go get up at 6am

**Michael Hingson ** 19:58
Well, you know that’s how actresses are They like to sleep late. Oh,

**Michael Hingson ** 20:01
yeah. Yeah, I like to sleep in and then they party till 1111 30 at night so or later.

**Michael Hingson ** 20:10
Sleep. So So Jessica, you are doing a lot of different things with acting and art and so on. Why and how did you start all of that? And how young were you when you started that?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 20:24
I believe I started this. My art and everything. When I was like four, I think what,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 20:34
John who taught you how to do so Jessica signature has a heart tell them? Yes.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 20:38
My heart is Madras signature. And my my aunt, my aunt, Auntie Bev taught me how to make an M first, and then a V at the bottom and connect it and connect them make a heart like a heart. But now, I do it all myself. Yeah, yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 20:59
So what kind of art do you do? Hearts, our hearts.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 21:04
Make hearts and then also people, female and male. And

**Michael Hingson ** 21:11
what kind of art is it? Is it just drawing or painting or what?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 21:15
Painting Manet? Okay,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 21:19
you’re one of Jessica’s pieces

**Michael Hingson ** 21:20
of art? Well, for those who can see the podcast, because a lot of people are going to be listening to this, but if you want to show one, I don’t see a problem.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 21:30
Well, you know, the the unique thing about Jessica is Hearts is that she divides them into little squares and colors. And so they’re very, very colorful, and, and very

**Jessica Rotolo ** 21:41
intricate. I would say it

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 21:44
takes her about 40 to 50 hours to do one of

**Michael Hingson ** 21:46
her I was just gonna ask that. Yeah, so 50 hours to do one, huh? Are you do you do oil paint or what?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 21:54
No acrylic paint acrylic. Okay. Yes. So like on the canvas. Now,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 21:58
when she first started out, it was crayons. It was like a pencil crayon. Yeah. And then I introduced her to the acrylic paint when she got older. And yeah, they’re they’re a work of art. And she’s Yeah, our prime minister has one dancer and mentioned national has one while we gave 24 away to a World Down Syndrome Day event that we did on March 21st. So many people have just because wonderful heart and

**Jessica Rotolo ** 22:26
then when I started acting, I believe it was 15 I think with drama away, or your 14 when you thank you. I was 14. And I loved it ever since that

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 22:48
you call them your second family. Yeah. And what do you do with drama? Where

**Michael Hingson ** 22:51
does the classes tell us about trauma?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 22:54
Our drama, winter or is like a group B? This is Mississauga, West Scarborough east, everywhere. Number of classes for drama. There is songwriting, which I love the most. That one is where you write your own songs. As a group as a group. Yes. And then dance. Dancing. I love dancing and dancing. I started when I was 1616.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 23:34
Yeah. But when with drama when you didn’t when you were young boy. But how

**Jessica Rotolo ** 23:39
old? Were your little? Oh,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 23:40
yeah, you started like with ballet. You were three years old.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 23:44
Three years old. I started dancing. Wow.

**Michael Hingson ** 23:47
So you’ve been doing it a while needless to say, which is certainly cool. And you’ve been dancing. So drama. What kind of drama do you do today?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:00
Um, we do a lot of plays. Like, um, the last play that we did was the very first play that drama we ever did. Wizard of Oz such

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 24:12
as 22 years ago. Yes. And I was

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:15
the what keepers of the West.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:20
And did you say the big line? I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:26
I did not. Really? I was going to and what

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 24:33
did you say instead?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:35
I don’t remember.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 24:37
You don’t remember your line.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:42
Oh, what what was her line?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:44
Yeah, for God.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:47
Don’t talk to her about forgetting lines.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:51
But that was the past play that we just did.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:56
You just did that one, huh? Yeah, we

**Jessica Rotolo ** 24:58
just did that one. Now.

**Michael Hingson ** 24:59
I I’m curious. Are plays like that recorded? Do this? Anybody make videos on them? Are they available?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 25:07
Yeah, yes. They’re all recorded and you can get them online.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 25:11
Yeah and drama. Wait, drama way.com Yeah. And there because it’s everybody, everybody that is in an actor all everybody has special needs. And

**Michael Hingson ** 25:23
I’m just gonna say Yeah. Then from verbal to

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 25:25
nonverbal. And Danielle stir nod who is the

**Michael Hingson ** 25:29
executive producer, director and co founder.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 25:33
She? She has that everybody has an amazing role. And the costumes the props are very fun. believable. Yeah. Her staff. What do you think about the staff have drawn love

**Jessica Rotolo ** 25:45
them? Yeah, I miss a couple of them. Because some of them are to move on how to move. Yeah,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 25:53
but it’s an incredible organization. Yeah. Yeah. And so last year for drama. Wait, I

**Jessica Rotolo ** 26:02
am yeah, I’m also an ambassador for jumbo i Tell

**Michael Hingson ** 26:05
me about that. Please.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 26:08
I love being an ambassador for jumbo I just because I have these a car for being an ambassador. And I can just give one out to any any for if Danielle

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 26:25
needs a spokesperson, or anybody who wants to be entered interviewing about drama, wait, just because asked to represent drama. Wait.

**Michael Hingson ** 26:36
So Lauren, how are you and Best Buddies involved with what Jessica is doing with drama? Where are you? Other than obviously supporting? Yeah,

**Lauren Abela ** 26:48
so actually really had an amazing time watching just because played the Wizard of Oz this year. It was spectacular. So I really, really enjoyed just showing up supporting, watching, it was really a really nice time because all the laughs and how serious everyone takes their role. Like it was a honestly professional production. Needless to say, so. That’s the reason generally, they don’t have a direct connection at the moment. But nothing that we can’t start today. There’s anything I’ve learned from Jessica is that, you know, if you want to do something, go ahead and do it.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 27:26
We did a lot of other plays. And actually, some of them were copied onto DVD guns, instead of like online,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 27:36
and there are other actors or performers that are part of the best buddies. organization as well. Yes, yes. But Best Buddies has been incredible. Especially, you know, the way you can tell them what were you with you and Lauren, the first Canadian?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 27:52
Oh, yes, we actually we are the first Canadian buddy best buddy pair to be a to be the best buddies global ambassadors. And our kids, this is the top

**Lauren Abela ** 28:11
are the ambassadors I’m wearing a purple collared shirt that they gave us at the International Conference this year, which

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 28:17
says Best Buddies ambassador. Yes. And then Jessica, you’re wearing which

**Jessica Rotolo ** 28:21
shirt? I’m wearing my best buddies Canada talk.

**Lauren Abela ** 28:25
And it has the logo in white, or a solid red t shirt.

**Michael Hingson ** 28:29
What is the logo look like? If you would learn Oh,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 28:32
it’s actually the logo is two people putting their arms like this around each other on each other.

**Lauren Abela ** 28:42
Like, like

**Michael Hingson ** 28:43
this doesn’t work very well just to go because most people aren’t going to see this. They’re going to hear it

**Jessica Rotolo ** 28:48
actually I got this talk at the 20th year Leadership Conference.

**Michael Hingson ** 28:57
Cool. So for you, Lauren.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 29:01
Might may say the the gentleman that he his name is Keith Haring and he’s a contemporary artist in the world and he create created and donated the best buddies logo for Anthony Kennedy Shriver Wow, they weren’t went to university together. Uh huh. Huh. So that’s who does that develop the logo? Yes.

**Michael Hingson ** 29:25
So Lauren, what is your favorite thing about having Jessica as a as a best buddy and a best friend?

**Lauren Abela ** 29:31
Do I have to pick just one Michael like really? Possible to

**Lauren Abela ** 29:42
certainly the key one that like stood out as soon as we met the first day, it was just your confidence. Yeah. And how you approach life and it’s definitely learned a lot from you. Still learning each day is a how you can just Jessica how you can just take on challenges and be like You know what, I deserve to be here and I’m gonna own it, whatever you’re doing. If you’re standing in front of 100,000 people, you’re gonna own it. I believe that. So definitely just Well,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 30:10
I actually did something called motion ball. I know I for Special Olympics, Canada, I auditioned with a really. I did an audition tape, which I technically really didn’t need to, because I was in already. But I auditioned, like, my little skit, and then I won. And I’m much I didn’t plan on. And I got to perform at the guard and find out how many people 2500 2500 People

**Michael Hingson ** 30:55
did you start? Yeah.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 30:58
And I loved it. I don’t get nervous whatsoever.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 31:04
And a very interesting fact. Is that, so Anthony Kennedy Shriver started special started. Best Buddies. Yeah. In like 1989. And his aunt and mother started Special Olympics. Right? So he comes from a fabulous lineage of people that just give to the world. And especially people with special needs. So they’re extra special. They have an extra special place in our heart, don’t they? Yeah, they really do.

**Michael Hingson ** 31:37
Well, I think Lauren, you’ve probably kind of answered this, but I’m going to ask it anyway. What has Jessica taught you that you can take away as a life lesson? Yes,

**Lauren Abela ** 31:46
so something I’ve been sharing with different high schools I’ve visited for my school. As that’s my new job. After graduating from university, I now go around to different high schools in Ontario, recruiting people for the University of Guelph Humber, and include this part of my speech, because I really want others to have a similar friendship story if they can, if they can join best buddies or start their own chapter. And that’s that, you know, how to be accepted for who you are. Because Jessica accepts me for who I am. And how to love with all of your heart. So I really, really appreciate Jessica for those two very big. Well,

**Michael Hingson ** 32:29
Ken, I think that’s extremely important.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 32:32
What do you say they’re a very big hug right now.

**Michael Hingson ** 32:34
What do you think? What? What do all of you think that best buddies can teach the world? And how can we get more people to pay attention to the lesson?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 32:46
Well, from a parent’s perspective, sure that my child can do anything like anybody else, it may take her a little bit longer, but she can do anything. And she just needs to be given the chance from a job to being a friend. Just give them the opportunity because they deserve it. They’re part of our planet. And, and they’re, you know, we were made by all made by our you know, who we believe in, if you’re, if it’s God, it’s whoever you believe in, we are all made together to live on this planet, and we each deserve. You know, that opportunity just to live a wonderful, wonderful life and Best Buddies. Absolutely. Does that. It does. Yes.

**Michael Hingson ** 33:31
Well, well, Jessica and Lauren, in their various ways are ambassadors. It sounds like so are you do you go out and give speeches and talk to the public? No,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 33:39
no, I don’t. I don’t

**Jessica Rotolo ** 33:42
know. She goes on the documentary. Unbelievable. Me with me. Yeah,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 33:45
yeah. So but no, I don’t I just I’m behind the scenes making sure that when just because they’re, everything’s done for her or we work together to do it. Yeah. You know, I’m, I’m her taxi. I’m her.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 34:00
With us now for us. Yeah. Yeah, it was awesome. For us. That’s the

**Jessica Rotolo ** 34:04
same for worldwide Down Syndrome Day. 2023

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 34:08
was yeah, just it was, you know, helped me don’t do it for me, help me. Let me let me show you that. I can do it too. I may need help. But just and that’s, you know, his World Down Syndrome days. Again, their theme. Yeah, it was wonderful. And

**Jessica Rotolo ** 34:22
I was also bullied in the past like, as a little baby and as a little kid and now Best Buddies really helped me make new friends. Yeah. And

**Michael Hingson ** 34:38
that’s real accepted. That is clearly great and a good thing. And and having a good friend like Lauren is always a valuable thing I think for for anyone, Lauren, you got your degree in psychology. You’re going to continue on and go further with that. Yes,

**Lauren Abela ** 34:57
I do want to pursue further Education, hopefully become a psychotherapist and and maybe a psychologist down the road. But you know I haven’t shared yet but just to come and our friendship influenced my thesis topic thesis research paper. For my fourth year I just wrote it. And that was on Down Syndrome acceptance, changing attitudes through interventions. So it was measuring, quantitatively whether a short video, just sharing more about people with Down syndrome of all different ages, genders in jobs and careers, and how capable they are. And it did find a positive relationship between education and acceptance attitudes. So if there is any advice that I can give people, it’s to be open to learning, and to ask questions, and approach people with a positive and open heart. You know, there’s enough hate in this world don’t spread more from yourself.

**Michael Hingson ** 36:03
There’s too much hate in this world, actually. But yeah, well, you know, so we’ve, we’ve heard a lot about Jessica’s leadership and so on, and mom in the background, but you’ve taken on leadership roles and Best Buddies and elsewhere. Why did you do that? And what what was the inspiration to make that happen?

**Lauren Abela ** 36:22
Yeah. Well, I know, I mentioned to you how I joined the student union with my university Ignite. And that was wanting to make clubs more accessible for students to join, seeing the positive impact of Best Buddies on the school. And I just wanted to give back in that way, and like Jessica, Tommy take action, you know, don’t wait for someone else to do it. If there’s something you want change, and then be that difference you want to see in the world. So that’s how I approach these leadership opportunities. And it’s certainly, you know, really definitely a credit, Jessica to many of my accomplishments, including the the award that my school gave me. Yes, yeah. Because we were.

**Michael Hingson ** 37:11
Now when when you’re a best buddy with someone, so Jessica is your best buddy. And and probably more relevant to ask it this way. Do you have more than one best buddy? Or do you stick with one person and devote all your time to that?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 37:27
I have lots of money. I have like eight buddies now, since high school.

**Michael Hingson ** 37:39
But how many do you have at one time?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 37:42
I’m one at a time, one at a time.

**Michael Hingson ** 37:45
So Lauren, same for you.

**Lauren Abela ** 37:47
Yes. So the beauty of the organization is that for each year or semester, depending on how the chapter organizes it, you are matched with just one person typically hoping, hoping that the numbers do line up. And the goal is to during that one year of commitment, foster friendship to last a lifetime. So that’s what happened to Jessica. So

**Jessica Rotolo ** 38:10
the mean, yes, but when I was in high school, yes. It was like I had four buddies. From that chapter one

**Michael Hingson ** 38:22
each year. Yeah, yes. Yes. Or what?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 38:27
years because you were there for seven years. Yeah.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 38:30
Yeah. So I actually know the names as well. Tiffany so Ha, Chloe, Grace, Lauren, Mary Louise from Tmu. And Lisa, and now Priyanka from the Tim you, so?

**Michael Hingson ** 38:49
So if you and so the two of you, Lauren and Jessica, are not in the organization’s definition. Best Buddies, your best buddies for life anyway. But you have you have different Best Buddies says Best Buddies in the organization. Yes. Yeah.

**Lauren Abela ** 39:07
So how it is organized is that students with intellectual or developmental disability are classified as a best buddy. Yeah, and those without an IDD is a pure body. Yes. So those one pure buddy is matched with one best buddy each year. And you know, you can request to be with a person sometimes it really it differs Chapter Two chapter. Yeah, we actually

**Jessica Rotolo ** 39:33
requested I requested her to be the the first by developer chapter

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 39:40
and the unique thing is Humber is that you have to be a student to be in the in the organization, the chapter, but it Tmu

**Jessica Rotolo ** 39:50
Tim, you the buddies don’t have to be a student. Yeah. And the pair bonding is have to be a student.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 39:57
Yeah, yeah. And community To be living has come where they are us t Fs okay?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 40:03
Yes FST has come in helped us find the bodies and bodies. So

**Lauren Abela ** 40:11
different Best Buddies chapters, especially at the university slash college level will partner with the community organization to recruit the best buddies from whereas we at Humber, we’re very lucky to have students in the CIC program that we could recruit directly from,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 40:27
which I helped with because I was in that program,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 40:31
which has helped you became the largest club and yeah, at the school, didn’t you? I

**Lauren Abela ** 40:36
want to believe so.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 40:40
You have amazing amount of people come is wonderful. Yes, yeah. Yeah, there’s so many great events.

**Michael Hingson ** 40:49
So what kind of events? I think we’ve heard some of the things that the Jessica has done well, but, and obviously, Darlene, but Lauren, what kind of events have you done with this buddies? Or is it sort of similar to what Jessica has already told us?

**Lauren Abela ** 41:04
I think the events I just mentioned here are just all of her personal accomplishments. I can’t top that, Michael ask someone else.

**Michael Hingson ** 41:15
Trying to top it, it’s

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 41:17
been very shy here, because without Lauren, it was it was a group that, you know, an effort between the two of them, there are partnerships so without each other, that clubs certainly would not have been successful, no as it was, but also the support that best buddies Canada gave them was really wonderful. Deanna is just

**Lauren Abela ** 41:40
amazing. And some of the events that Deanna allowed us to participate in include the Ascot, yes. Which was an annual fundraiser so just Can I volunteered with that event? We’ve gone to the Blue Jays game. Free tickets from Best Buddies, Canada. Yeah, PJs

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 41:56
Care Foundation went into the box and sat in the box.

**Lauren Abela ** 41:59
Yeah, we’re also we’ve got watch the champions movie and in the feeder in Toronto. Yeah.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 42:04
And that’s you’ve also could, you’ve had dance evenings at the at the school you’ve had friendship walks, right? Yeah. Yeah,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 42:16
we did. You guys did.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 42:19
Talk to your Yes. That was best, buddy. Yes.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 42:22
We also did the friendship dance. But that was my high school. Yeah. And I came in second in a dance off.

**Michael Hingson ** 42:34
So Jessica, do you do social media at all? Yes.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 42:40
Well, we both do, actually. And what do you do for a zoo?

**Michael Hingson ** 42:43
Tell us about that. Hi, sorry, sad again.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 42:48
We do Instagram lives together. Tell us about that. It’s really fun.

**Lauren Abela ** 42:53
Yes, maybe I can share how it started, which came about because of COVID. It was hard to connect with people. And I’m not sure it was a service. But it’s Canada that reached out to me. They reached out to us. And they suggested that we go live on their Instagram just sharing a skill. And it became almost a weekly thing for us.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 43:14
I believe our first we did a makeup tutorial we

**Lauren Abela ** 43:18
do. Yeah. So we’ve done anywhere from makeup to baking. Cooking. walks outside. Yeah. Fashion. Yeah. And

**Jessica Rotolo ** 43:27
also the conference. Yeah,

**Lauren Abela ** 43:31
we went live at the conference too. For those that couldn’t make it as it was quite far. We wanted to have Sharon in our experience so highly, highly recommend every person to go to a leadership conference at least once in their life. Yeah,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 43:44
well, I did three

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 43:46
who were some of the people throughout the conference in Indiana. Famous people that you got to meet

**Jessica Rotolo ** 43:52
Miss T Miss USA Miss Teen USA, Garin

**Jessica Rotolo ** 43:57
flowers? Yes. Getting flowers

**Jessica Rotolo ** 44:01
in the Champions cast, the movie of champions, the cast there, but a couple of them our best Windows ambassadors as well. So

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 44:13
yeah, yeah, it was one. That was wonderful. You guys had perfect weather.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 44:17
Yes. Perfect weather. It was so nice. It was so hot out there. It was.

**Michael Hingson ** 44:25
So I’m Darlene, are you strictly behind the scenes? Are you an ambassador for Best Buddies? Or do you take on any kind of roles

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 44:33
on behind the scenes Michael?

**Michael Hingson ** 44:36
be out in the open at all? Huh?

**Michael Hingson ** 44:38
No, I’m behind the scenes. I’m the momager. And yeah, I just make sure that, you know, whatever Jessica needs, you know, from whatever, you know, helping her with what she’s going to wear for any event to getting her there safely, making sure she has, you know, nourishment and drinks. Yeah, Let’s, I’m just Yeah, strictly behind the scenes which I is for me. One

**Jessica Rotolo ** 45:06
time. Enjoyable me. Yeah, why not? That’s

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 45:08
what we’re best buddies. Studies. I’m just when Jessica, when Jessica

**Jessica Rotolo ** 45:15
except for my Hayden Park chapter for that she was a part of it as well.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 45:25
Yeah. So what I did with when Jessica was at Hayden Park Secondary School with GE, all girls school in the public, the Toronto District Public School Board.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 45:36
Yeah. And we had an attacker with another school UTS UTS. Yeah.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 45:40
And so they were a distance away. So I would drive with our van and I would take two trips for the girls to load into the van and drive them over. So they didn’t, because it was too far for them to walk. So it was really nice that they got to go to the other school instead of always having an event at their school or school. Yeah,

**Lauren Abela ** 45:59
yeah. Yeah, one thing to jump in, that parents can do, in terms of supporting Best Buddies is actually to advocate to the staff at their school if there isn’t a chapter to ask for them to be started one. Yeah. So that’s one thing that we want to encourage family members and supporters. So if you know, of a friend or your child who has a disability, and there isn’t a best buddy chapter to reach out to the President, the principal, the vice principal, and to see if one can be started. Yeah.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 46:33
And then they just need one of the teachers would be, you know, be the contact with with the school, but it depends if it’s at a high school versus a university level. Yeah. Because if it’s a university level, did you need a teacher University? No, yeah. No.

**Lauren Abela ** 46:51
Students just ourselves. Students.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 46:57
In high school, it

**Lauren Abela ** 46:58
was an elementary level. So we do our best buddy chapters in elementary as well. Same

**Michael Hingson ** 47:04
process in the US and Canada.

**Lauren Abela ** 47:09
Well, similar, so you just reach out to your state’s supervisor in terms of the States or in Canada, reach out to Best Buddies Canada office, and they will be able to provide support on next steps and how to move forward.

**Michael Hingson ** 47:23
So since it’s come up, we might as well deal with it if people want to reach out how do they figure out where their local Best Buddies offices are reaching out to their state or whatever? How do they do that?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 47:37
You can go online at best buddies.com. Yes, yes.

**Lauren Abela ** 47:43
And then there you can find contacts, and what chapters are currently available to be joined. based on your geographic location? Yes.

**Lauren Abela ** 47:56
Your work there. Very

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 47:57
good. So what is it

**Jessica Rotolo ** 47:59
best buy this for? us.org.org?

**Michael Hingson ** 48:02
Yeah, that makes sense. This would be a nonprofit. Yeah, yes. Yeah. And do all Best Buddies chapters, pretty much do the same thing with the same kinds of people. So you deal primarily with intellectual disabilities, not all physical disabilities.

**Lauren Abela ** 48:17
So there are intersecting disabilities. However, the best buddies main audience are those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It doesn’t exclude anyone, everyone is welcome to join. It just depends on on the the matching system, but there’s also the Associate Member position where you don’t have to be matched. You can just attend events as you please, to enjoy and the fun and make people meet people across the whole chapters. And that’s what

**Jessica Rotolo ** 48:44
we are right now.

**Michael Hingson ** 48:48
How large is best buddies in Canada now?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 48:55
A shop there was in 1993. And that was the York University campus.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 49:05
Yeah, Cam doctor, but how many there are in the in Canada? I really don’t know that number.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 49:11
Me neither.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 49:12
But it’s there’s a lot of chapters lots.

**Michael Hingson ** 49:16
And you say a started in 1993? Yes. Your,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 49:20
your character University was the first ever chapter. It’s

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 49:23
just north of Toronto. Uh huh.

**Lauren Abela ** 49:25
So I can give overall statistics. Best Buddies programs now engage participants in each of the 50. United States. And we’re in Canada as well and in over 47 countries impacting over 1.3 million people worldwide. Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 49:41
So it is pretty substantive, although I don’t generally hear much about it, but I’m glad that we’ve been able to do this, but I haven’t really heard a lot about Best Buddies outside of being introduced to Best Buddies, people by Sheldon, which I really am grateful to We’ll be able to do, because I like the message you clearly send the message that I think I and other people with disabilities, sin, which is we’re as capable as anyone else stop limiting us with your own attitudes and beliefs.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 50:19
And one very interesting fact about what is happening right now with Best Buddies International, it is. They have its National Disability Employment Awareness Month, right. N D. A. M, in India, and is basically to have people you know, just trying to get everybody employed. It’s a very big part of the best buddies in the US is to they have wonderful programs. Do

**Michael Hingson ** 50:49
you know what the unemployment rate among people with Down syndrome is? No, I don’t have that statistic either. Yeah.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 50:57
We have. We have many families whose children or young adults are at home and do not have employment. Like when, as Jessica mentioned, when she was in the last documentary, they helped her get a job at a place called Malabar the costume rental store. And she absolutely loved, loved, loved it. But then COVID happened, it was close down. And then yeah, it was closed for good after that. So she lost her job. He loved it.

**Michael Hingson ** 51:24
When he just wanted to go try on costumes.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 51:29
Oh, I also I also got to meet a celebrity that came in. He was an actor. From the show victorious. He played back on the show.

**Lauren Abela ** 51:54
On the topic of employment, just wanted to quickly mention, I was an ambassador for the Discover ability network. So any viewers listening in from Ontario, this is a free service paid for by the government, for employees with disabilities to connect them to employers looking to hire inclusively. So discoverability network, feel free to check that out later.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 52:14
And Jessica with fcb, Canada, she did a public service announcement. And they one of the things they helped create was a What would you guys create on? Oh,

**Jessica Rotolo ** 52:29
we pretty wanted to be employable.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 52:38
employable? Yeah. Yes. And employable. And so they created the first LinkedIn, LinkedIn network for people with Down syndrome.

**Michael Hingson ** 52:46
Yes. Ah, now what organization is, again?

FCB. Canada. What

**Michael Hingson ** 52:51
is FCB?

It’s just one of the advertising agencies in I’m not sure what FCB stands for. I was wondering, yeah, I’ll look that up. And then with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, so it doesn’t say FCB it just says FCB. Canada. Yeah. Wonderful, wonderful people. And, yeah, so the employable. So anybody who has Down Syndrome who would like to connect to it, it is a LinkedIn page, specifically for people with Down syndrome. Yes. What does it stand for? Long name? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

**Lauren Abela ** 53:30
Full service, integrated marketing and communications agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal? Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 53:36
Well, there you go. Yeah. Well, that is cool. Well, let me ask, Jessica, what are your long term plans? I mean, so you do art, you do modeling and a number of different things. Do you just want to continue that? Do you have any kind of long term goals in life?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 53:55
I do have one

guy in this house. Yeah. That’s the problem. You know, Michael is yes, Jessica wants to move out of her house. But you know, it’s financially she would never be able to that’s the unfortunate thing because she doesn’t have the income to be able to move out of her home or home. So she is forced to live with us until, you know, maybe we could while we’re trying to get a business going with for Jessica with her with her heart design. And, and her cards are soft. I

**Jessica Rotolo ** 54:33
am till five. Yeah. I wouldn’t move out. Yeah, I don’t live on my own.

**Lauren Abela ** 54:39
You know, some people would blame the economy, so I can’t really blame the economy.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 54:44
Yeah, it’s very expensive to live in Toronto. So champion champions.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 54:49
Want to move closer to my work, and your My vigor score for my drama classes around that area. Well,

**Michael Hingson ** 55:00
you might, you may find as time goes on, you’ll be able to make more of a career out of some of the things you’re doing, which would really be exciting. No boys in your life I gather, huh? No,

**Lauren Abela ** 55:11
not Yeah, that

**Michael Hingson ** 55:12
was a pretty definitive answer.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 55:14
I don’t want to I don’t want any. No, no. No, boy.

**Lauren Abela ** 55:24
Are we gonna dance at each other’s wedding?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 55:29
They’re gonna dance at each other’s weddings, but she’s got to find a guy first.

**Michael Hingson ** 55:35
Seems like a reasonable thing to do. And, you know, I’m, I’m one of those people who’s of the opinion there is somebody for everyone. So you just never know, Jessica.

Yeah. You’ll never know.

**Michael Hingson ** 55:48
We have Well, we’ve already got Dorlean addressed. I mean, she’s got a guy. So that works. Yeah. So Lauren, what about you? What are your sort of long term goals and guys, and all that?

**Lauren Abela ** 55:58
Definitely looking into buying a house in a few years, hopefully. Definitely working because I just started working after just graduating this year. So I want to find a salary position. Some pretty good. And again, yeah, do a master’s, become a psychotherapist, maybe do some more research. You know, start a family, get married first. Goals and happy and healthy and make a difference in the world?

**Michael Hingson ** 56:28
Have you found the right person to get married to yet? Um,

**Lauren Abela ** 56:32
I hope so. I think so.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 56:36
He’s our favorite.

**Michael Hingson ** 56:37
He’s a keeper. No, mom, mom blesses. So that’s a good start.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 56:42
He’s an extraordinary young man. Very nice.

**Michael Hingson ** 56:45
So for each of you question, what advice do you want to give to the world? And we’ve talked a lot about different things. And I know, we’ve probably addressed some of the issues. But as we kind of bring this to a close, this has been going for a while it’s almost an hour, can you believe it? But

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 57:04
what kind of what kind of interviewer? What kind

**Michael Hingson ** 57:07
of advice and suggestions? Would you like to leave people with what kinds of thoughts? Let’s start with Dorlean?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 57:15
Well, My Messages to Young families, when Jessica was in my arms in the hospital, the doctor that came into the room to assess Jessica basically told me that I would grow to love her, which just absolutely broke my heart. Yeah. And so to all the young families, you know, yes, it’s a shock at the beginning when you when you’re holding your, your child, and you know, the diagnosis, but life will be incredible. We could not ever imagine our life without Jessica, but also the people she has brought to our lives has been a true blessing. It’s been a blessing for us, you know, meeting people like Lauren, Peter, and just all of Jessica’s friends in the mothers that I’ve met and fathers, they’re just beautiful people. So it’ll be okay. That’s, that’s my message. It’ll be okay.

**Michael Hingson ** 58:09
Have you ever had the opportunity to go back and see that doctor who said that?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 58:15
No, no, I don’t know what I’d say to him. And especially days later, when we went to back to the hospital, and then he used Jessica as a specimen for a fellow doctor to show the fellow Doctor all the signs of that it’s a baby with Down syndrome. Basically, I had a break down for a couple of days, because, you know, that’s Is this the way my daughter was going to be perceived by the world? And, you know, we certainly have shown that No, she’s not. She’s a perfect person in our eyes and everybody’s eyes that No, sir, yeah, yes, surely so.

**Michael Hingson ** 58:52
So I don’t, I don’t want to do a lot of preaching myself this week. But I will make the comment that we’ve got to get beyond this idea that disability means lack of ability, because it doesn’t mean lack of ability at all. It’s a characteristic and everyone has it. But you know, I hear what you’re saying. My parents were told that they should send me away when it was discovered that I was blind and the same thing and they rejected that. And I wish more parents would, would take that step to not just go by what science says just because somebody is different. Yeah. 100%. So Jessica, what kind of advice do you have for the world? How do you want to leave people thinking about you this week?

**Jessica Rotolo ** 59:38
So I would say be yourself and just don’t be afraid to leave your friends.

**Michael Hingson ** 59:47
Yeah, yeah. And it’s all about, as you said, being yourself and having the courage to be yourself and don’t let people talk you into something that isn’t true. Yeah, yeah, it is. and

**Jessica Rotolo ** 1:00:00
don’t let anyone tell you different.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:00:03
Oh, yeah. That’s the real key, isn’t it?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:00:06
Yes. You know? Yeah.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:00:10
And if you don’t know what you want, figure it out and use your best buddies and your friends but figure it out. Because you can certainly want things just like anyone else. Yes.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:00:22
And you know, people don’t have to be alone. And if you are alone, contact Best Buddies.

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:00:27
They will help you. You don’t have to be alone. It really is an amazing organization. Yeah, right.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:00:33
And Lauren, and Lauren, you what kind of thoughts do you want to leave everyone with?

**Lauren Abela ** 1:00:37
Yeah. If you can choose to be anything, be kind. That’s it and everything that you do. And if you are unsure how to be kind, research, ask questions, you know, and if you’re thinking that you want to learn more about Best Buddies, then go to the website, reach out to us on Instagram, we are very happy to share more and and consider things that you can do in your everyday life that are simple, simple things that to spread that kindness and to make that best buddies impact of friendship and inclusion and whatever workplace you’re in. Yeah,

**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:15
speaking of Instagram, do you guys still do the live Instagram? Yes.

**Lauren Abela ** 1:01:20
It’s been a few months, maybe a year, but we will do more we promise

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:01:25
crazier with you guys put on the love means event, World Down Syndrome Day event. Now the documentary him really has been advocating in different areas. Yes, very, very busy. Which is wonderful. So wonderful life.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:39
Yeah, I want to just go do it. Yeah,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:01:45
exactly. Just make that phone call. Well, I

**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:48
want to thank all of you for being with us today. On unstoppable mindset. Clearly, you’re unstoppable. All three of you, especially as a team, but individually as well. And I want to thank you all for being here. And if you know other people who we ought to bring on as a guest on unstoppable mindset, please let us know. And for all of you listening out there and watching, we would love to hear your thoughts about any other guests that you’d like to have as well as we’d like your thoughts. And I know Jessica, Lauren. And Dorlean would like your thoughts also about this podcast? And actually, let me ask that question. If people want to reach out to you all directly, can they do that? And how would they do that?

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:02:28
By email, or your Instagram or so

**Jessica Rotolo ** 1:02:31
then what

**Michael Hingson ** 1:02:32
what is your Instagram address or handle or how do people find you? Mine

**Jessica Rotolo ** 1:02:39
is Jessica dot Rotolo 20 and rotala

**Michael Hingson ** 1:02:43
was R O T O L O yes. So Jessica dot Rotolo 20.

**Lauren Abela ** 1:02:48
Yes. And mine is L A U R E N A B E L A Three.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:02:58
So you’re the third Loren Abela. Jessica is the 20th Rotolo so

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:03:10
on Instagram, so everybody have to reach me through Jessica. Yes.

**Jessica Rotolo ** 1:03:15
Well, sorry, my email. No,

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:03:21
I just like it too many emails. No, yeah, they can reach out to Jessica’s Instagram. Do

**Michael Hingson ** 1:03:26
it on Instagram. That’s fine. Well, I hope people will reach out to you guys. We really appreciate it. And I want to thank everyone again for listening. We really appreciate you being here and listening with us. It’s been a fun hour. And that’s one of the main goals on a stoppable mindset. It’s not just for us to have fun, but I hope that all of you listening had fun as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please email me at Michael m i c h a e l h i at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to our podcast page www dot Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. And wherever you’re listening, please give us a five star rating. We value greatly your reviews and we love those five star ratings and really appreciate you giving those to us. So please do so and reach out. We’d love to hear from you. And for Jessica Lauren. And Dorlean. Once again. I want to thank you all for being here with us today.

**Lauren Abela ** 1:04:28
Thank you so much. Such a pleasure. Yeah, it

**Dorlean Rotolo ** 1:04:31
was truly an honor to be interviewed by you and we really appreciate your time to to let us tell you about readiness buddies. Best organization ever. Yeah. And drop.

**Michael Hingson ** 1:04:45
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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