Kathy Ratkiewicz, mother, advocate, friend, RIP

michiana down syndromeThe Down syndrome community has lost an advocate and leader.

I first met Kathy Ratkiewicz at one of the early Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action conference. As with many who I meet in person, Kathy and I had “met” on-line for some time before we met at the conference. Kathy was very concerned about the ethical administration of prenatal testing and supporting mothers finding out their expectant child had Down syndrome. She had been a fan of my work and was a great source of encouragement. She was also a follower of this blog, always leaving comments that were thoughtful, because that’s how Kathy was.

So, I was very shocked to receive the sad news last week. From the Michiana Down Syndrome page, the organization Kathy led for many years:

It is with great sadness that we share with you the passing of our dear friend and president, Kathy Ratkiewicz. The Michiana Down syndrome community has lost one of our biggest champions. Many of us have Kathy to thank for helping us find solutions and guiding us through this world of Down syndrome. Through all those who she has touched, her legacy will live on. There was so much more that Kathy had wanted to accomplish, she gave so much of herself to this organization and we hope to honor her as we strive to continue the work she loved so dearly.

Kathy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this spring and was receiving treatment in Indianapolis. Sadly, her condition deteriorated over the past weeks and she went home to be with the Lord early this morning in Indianapolis with her family at her side. She will be greatly missed by all of us who knew her and loved her so much.

From her obituary, Kathy served for 20 years as a pediatric nurse, before choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. She home schooled her seven children, the youngest of which has Down syndrome, while also leading Michiana Down Syndrome in its outreach efforts. Kathy was only 60–taken from us far too soon.

Tomorrow from 4:30 – 6:30 pm, there will be a ceremony to remember and celebrate Kathy’s life. It will be held at the Michiana Down Syndrome Center. In lieu of flowers, the family would like you to make donations to Michiana Down Syndrome in Kathy’s memory. Donations may be mailed to the address below, or on-line at this link.

Michiana Down Syndrome Center
2448 Miracle Lane, Mishawaka, IN 46545

I always find a donation of at least $21 is fitting in these circumstances. I hope you’ll join me in donating to commemorate Kathy’s lasting legacy that extended far beyond the Michiana area. Her voice and passion will be missed.


  1. Like you I knew Kathy online for many years, but sadly being ‘across the water’, I never got to meet her in person, but I was saddened to hear the news last week and know that she will be greatly missed by many,

  2. Thank you Mark. Kathy was an on-line friend and a big supporter of the Saving Downs mission, she had a clear strong vision of social justice. She was one of our Facebook admins until she stepped down a few months ago due to poor health. When we last chatted she was confident of a recovery. She will be missed and I am sure we will all honour her by taking her work forward.

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