Tara’s Story

“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”  ~African proverb

With two boys, Dave and Shelley anxiously awaited the arrival of their third child. They hoped they would be blessed with a little girl, and on August 29, 2007, they welcomed Tara into the world.

Their family was complete and everything was perfect, until the next day. “She’s fine, she has ten toes and ten fingers, she is perfectly healthy,” was Shelley Duffey’s reaction to hearing the doctor say her little girl had Down syndrome. “No one said anything until the next day. We were shocked!”

Tara spent the next ten days in the neonatal intensive care unit, struggling to maintain her body temperature. “You go through all the different emotions: denial, anger, being worried and scared. Then, you start researching information on the internet and you read the worst possible things,” shared Dave. While the Duffey family came to terms with the reality of Tara’s diagnosis, their love for Tara was something that never wavered.

Tara came to Capper Foundation (Capper) at the age of six and began receiving speech-language therapy. Shelley and Dave wanted people to understand Tara. They didn’t want her to be frustrated because her wants and needs were not being met. “Being able to have a face-to-face conversation and to have the ability to communicate is a huge life skill,’ explained Shelley. ”We wanted all of our friends to know the joy we experience with Tara every day.”

When Tara started at Capper she was using less than twenty words and primarily using sign language to communicate. Now Tara is able to put complete sentences together and even has a pretty witty personality. Shelley said, “Tara has made leaps and bounds, since first coming here. Capper is a blessing to our family! To see the pride and joy in her face when she is talking is priceless! Tara can now share with the world, thanks to our friends at Capper!”

Speech-Language Therapist, Julie Watson,  began seeing Tara in August of 2015. Her initial focus in therapy was to improve her production of speech sounds. As her ability to produce speech sounds improved and she was easier to understand, Tara’s therapy started to address her ability to maintain clear speech. She also began to expand her expressive language by combining words into phrases and short sentences. “It’s been great seeing the gains she’s made, and we continue to focus on her knowledge and use of strategies to support her successful communication outcomes with others. Tara has a happy and outgoing personality. She aims to please, and is a joy to work with,” shared Julie.

Tara now comes to Capper once a week and continues to improve her speech. Like most children her age she is finding more ways to be independent. One of the biggest gains for Tara has been her confidence. “Tara is confident in who she is now. She is always smiling. Tara has this light about her and the more we go to Capper, the more she shines,” said Shelley. Tara added, “I like coming to Capper and playing with Ms. Julie.”

The Duffey’s have the same wants and dreams for Tara as they do for their other two children, Trent and Trey, which is happiness! They hope one day Tara will go to prom and do all the things a girl dreams about.

Shelley and Dave continue to advocate for Tara and want other people to know there is help available. They also want families to know everything will be okay, you are not alone and you never will be alone. 

“Our community is so blessed to have Capper Foundation, the donors and all of the volunteers, who take the time to get to know our amazing friends with different abilities.  We are extremely grateful to everyone and for everything they have done for us. They have not only enhanced Tara’s life, but helped so many friends with different abilities reach their fullest potential!”

Capper Foundation’s purpose is to change the way the world defines and views disability by making profound positive differences in people’s lives every day. With your help, Tara will continue to benefit from the specialized pediatric therapy services we provide, along with her family and many others.

The impact our services have on individuals, families and the community would not be possible without the caring and compassionate support of friends, volunteers and donors like you. Together, we are making a difference. As a valued partner with us, your continuing support is needed, noticed and appreciated.


Jim Leiker
President & CEO