Corbin H. Crable
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Gardner resident Judy Iveson had no idea that someone as small as her granddaughter would have such a big influence over others.
But the influence was evident on Friday

Gardner resident Judy Iveson displays photos of her granddaughter, Cortlyn, who died when she was two days old. Cortlyn had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, described as a form of Down Syndrome with several physical and developmental differences. Iveson was busy last week helping with a garage sale to help raise awareness of the disorder. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

, July 30, during a garage sale at Madison Elementary School. Proceeds from the second annual sale, sponsored in part by Johnson County Parks and Recreation, will partially go toward raising awareness of Trisomy 18, a chromosomal defect in infants characterized by heart and kidney problems, as well as delayed growth, among other symptoms. Trisomy 18 can reveal itself in physical characteristics such as a small jaw, strawberry-shaped head and low-set ears, according to the Trisomy 18 Foundation. As of yet, there is no cure or treatment for the disorder.
“It’s a form of Down Syndrome, but far worse,” Iveson explained.
Physicians diagnosed Iveson’s newborn granddaughter, Cortlyn, with Trisomy 18 shortly after she and her twin sister, Addyson, were born at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Cortlyn died when she was only two days old.
Iveson said that although time has passed since Cortlyn’s death, the pain of losing a grandchild remains.
“It’s devastating. It never stops,” she said. “But we still have her sister, Addyson.”
On Friday, though, Iveson was too busy to reflect on sorrow when there were so many smiles around. Volunteers from Johnson County Parks and Recreation, as well as nearly 50 kids from around the school district, arranged donated items on tables and waited for customers to stop by and browse the wares. Inside the school, children set up a table and sold baked goods and lemonade to passersby. Iveson was busy, too, walking from table to table and chatting with volunteers and customers alike.
This year’s sale was the second annual sale for the department, Iveson noted, and they hoped to make more than the $400 they raised in 2009.
“We have over $100 so far, and the kids just buy everything,” volunteer Lauren Buckles said. “This year, the bake sale is crazy.”
But as volunteers and customers grinned and chatted, Cortlyn and those who helped her family remained at the forefront of Iveson’s mind. She marveled at the strength of Cortlyn’s mother – her own daughter – Jaime Speer, who handled Cortlyn’s diagnosis with courage.
“You want to blame someone when this kind of thing happens, and my daughter never did,” Iveson recalled.
And then there’s the staff of the hospital’s NICU, who will benefit from the garage sale. Some of the funds will be donated to the hospital for a renovated nurses’ lounge – which will include a plaque and a picture of Cortlyn, a reminder of the difference nurses and medical staff can have in the lives of those they serve.
“I’d like to help others who go through this,” Iveson said. “(Trisomy 18) is a little-known disorder, and more people are finding out about it.”
Finally, of course, Iveson praised the efforts of the county’s Parks and Rec department and its employees, who chose raising awareness of Trisomy 18 as a cause to support this summer. Money made from the department’s 2010 summer events will go toward researching the disorder, said Bill Holmes, the department’s summer events director.
“I pushed for us to do (the garage sale) this year again,” Holmes said. “It’s so important to get kids involved in community service, and it teaches responsibility. It’s a wonderful enterprise and opportunity.”
But perhaps more importantly, Iveson said, it keeps the memory of Cortlyn alive in the minds of her family, her friends and her community – and it brings everyone another step closer to eliminating Trisomy 18 altogether.
“This helps a lot of people,” Iveson said. “This (sale) allows people to donate to a good, worthy cause.”
On the Web:
Trisomy 18 Foundation: