Karen has been a life long advocate, role model and standard bearer that proclaims DOWN SYNDROME IS A LIFE MEANT TO BE LIVED! And, as she often says, DOWN SYNDROME IS A LIFE MEANT TO BE SAVED!
Karen graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon and earned a two-year Associates of Science degree from Portland Community College. She successfully swam the English Channel as part of a six-person relay team. She also swam 9 miles, non stop straight across the width of Lake Tahoe, in 59-degree water to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Congress and to show the world that people with Down Syndrome are more alike, rather than different, from everyone else. She has countless open water swims on her athletic resume, including swimming 8 miles across Lake Champlain for the North County Down Syndrome Association and 5 miles from Molokini to Wailea Beach in Maui for Best Buddies of Hawai’i.
Karen travels the country speaking to a wide range of audiences about overcoming limitations and about what can be accomplished with positive expectations. Karen tackles any challenge she faces with determination and commitment, knowing she has limits, but not allowing them to limit her drive to succeed.
Karen earned a regular high school diploma from St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon in 1997. Having completed all of the Oregon State requirements for a regular high school diploma. She completed requirements for an AS degree and a certificate to be a teacher's aide at Portland Community College in March 2001. Read More »
A Dad's perspective - Presently Karen is swimming just shy of two miles a day, five times a week. She has become a beautiful swimmer. When I go to watch her practice, I never take my eyes off of her. I have brought things with me to read, I have brought my cell phone, and I have had people with me that I could chat with. Read more »
Karen Gaffney is the President of a non-profit organization dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, the workplace and the community for people with intellectual disabilities. She is doing this by creating awareness and calling attention to the tremendous capabilities of people with disabilities. Read more »