A tiny little plus sign changes everything. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. But for Todd and Denise Schemper, that little plus sign wasn’t going to be the only little thing that transformed their world with the birth of their daughter, Kate.
Denise experienced a healthy pregnancy with baby number two and went into labor on January 8, 2009. The doctors joyfully announced, “It’s a girl!” marking little Miss Kate’s triumphant entry to the world at five pounds, two ounces. For a moment, all seemed well.
“A couple days after she was born, a doctor in the NICU told us that Kate might have RTS,” shared Todd Schemper, father of Kate and physical therapist at Kinetic Edge in Des Moines.
If you haven’t heard of RTS before, you’re not alone. It stands for Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, and only occurs in an estimated 1 in 100,000 to 125,000 newborns. In fact, the Schempers only know of two other kids in the entire state of Iowa that share Kate’s diagnosis. This rare genetic syndrome is characterized by wide toes and thumbs, distinct facial features, developmental delay, and various medical issues.
“When her diagnosis was confirmed, we were overwhelmed and grieved the daughter we thought we were going to have,” shared Todd, “But then we embraced the wonderful daughter God has given us.”
After six weeks in the NICU at Blank Children’s Hospital, Kate finally got to go home, and the Schempers began to adjust not only to life with two kids but to life with a child with special needs.
Fast forward seven years to present day, you’ll find Kate thriving and the Schemper family feeling blessed to have Kate as a part of their family.
“RTS is a part of who Kate is, but it does not define her,” shared Kate’s mom Denise. “She has a very unique and magnetic personality. She draws people to her with her genuine joy and love, without judgement or condition, and is a light to those around her.”
For the most part, Kate’s life is pretty normal. She enjoyed this past school year at Moore Elementary in Des Moines, and like many other first graders, she loves to read, dance, watch movies (her current favorite is the latest version of “Annie”), play on her iPad, dance, play at parks, and spend time with her friends. When at home, Kate loves playing with her older brother Zach and younger sister Sarah. One of her favorite family activities is going on bike rides in the ‘WeeHoo’.
The Schempers look forward to seeing how Kate continues to learn and develop and use her God-given talents to shine in this world. They know she will bless many people throughout her life because of the beautiful, kind and smart person she is. Todd and Denise pray she will always be seen for who she truly is, and that she will be loved and accepted for all she has to offer.
We wanted to introduce you to Kate because July 3 is national RTS awareness day and this little princess is a part of our Kinetic Edge family. We asked Todd and Denise what they wanted others to know about their daughter or RTS, and they shared three requests:
“It’s not like God made a mistake on Kate. She has a really important purpose in the world, like all of us do,” shared Denise. “That’s not based on how intelligent she is or how accomplished or beautiful she is. It’s all based innately on who she is as a person, and that’s true for all of us. Every single person has worth and value and purpose.”
So in honor of National RTS day and Kate, we ask you to intentionally appreciate someone’s differences on July 3. It doesn’t have to be a person with special needs; it could be your co-worker or neighbor who you continually butt heads with. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from having Kate as part of our Kinetic Edge family, it’s that the world is a much brighter place when we embrace what makes us unique.