Michael Maske – 2018 Spark-of-Awesome DAD Award Honoree
When Michael Maske first heard the news that his daughter Zoey had Down syndrome, a friend and mentor asked him “How will you show up? How will you be a father to Zoey?”
These questions made a huge impact on Michael, who has since done everything in his power to “show up” as a dad—not only by being a great advocate for Zoey, but to all individuals with special needs. Since she was born, Michael has shown her nothing but love and compassion, facing every challenge with acceptance.
When Zoey was 6 months, old, she had surgery to repair her AV septal defect. After her cardiologist told Michael that Zoey might have to be on heart medication for the rest of her life, Michael started learning all he could about supplements and diet. He sought out experts in the field of nutrition and people with experience working with individuals with Down syndrome, as well as a naturopathic physician.
As the result of the various suggestions and her dad’s research, Zoey now eats a diet rich in healthy fats, good sources of protein and lots of fruits and vegetables. When she was 2 years old and went in for a quarterly echocardiogram, the cardiologist was so pleasantly surprised at how good it looked, Zoey was able to stop taking her heart medicine.
Michael also works tirelessly at Zoey’s school to ensure that inclusion takes place; as a result, the kids consider her as one of the “regular kids.” At home, he reminds Zoey to believe in herself and to keep trying, because he knows that she can accomplish whatever she wants.