Born This Way | Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Born This Way

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 3 of 4

She Stars in a Three-Time Emmy Award-Winning TV Show and Has Two Businesses- and One Big Message for Everyone.


This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

“DON’T LIMIT ME!” was a battle cry speech that Megan Bomgaars crafted back in 2013 as a high school student in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fully included herself and part of her state champion cheerleading team, Bomgaars wrote the speech for a school project on inclusive learning. When the video of that speech hit YouTube, Bomgaars suddenly became a viral sensation, which helped catapult her career in television as a key cast member of the three-time Emmy Award-winning TV show, “Born This Way.”

Her perfectly crafted words truly convey Bomgaars’ life philosophy: All people, with or without Down syndrome, can achieve their dreams if they are not limited and have equal opportunity to succeed.

Before her big television break, Bomgaars was invited to numerous speaking engagements and able to spr ead her message of inclusion to audiences all over the world— something she continues to this day. She has presented to nonprofits and corporations in 34 of the 50 states and around the world in countries including Trinidad, Tobago, Spain, Canada, and Mexico. In 2015, Bomgaars represented the Global Down Syndrome Foundation at the White House to attend then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Beating the Odds Summit” focused on students attending post-secondary school against the odds. She and Devon Adelman were the first and only students with Down syndrome to attend.

A TV STAR IS BORN

In 2015, Bomgaars was at the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) Annual Convention promoting medical care and research for Global. Producers from A&E were at the convention scouting talent for a reality show idea that would star people with Down syndrome. They attended the workshop at which Bomgaars spoke and recognized her from her “Don’t Limit Me” YouTube video. She pretty much landed the role on the spot.

Much like Bomgaars’ YouTube video, A&E’s “Born This Way” was an unexpected success, not only weathering ratings and five seasons but garnering 16 Emmy nominations, three Emmy Awards, and two Critics’ Choice Awards. The reality series features seven adults with Down syndrome who pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships and romantic relationships, and overcome obstacles, while providing a window into the lives of people with the condition.

A special holiday finale episode will air on A&E in December 2019. A digital web series, which will pick up where the fourth season left off, is also in the works.

On the show’s website, Bomgaars is described as a “woman on a mission” who has the “self-imposed mandate to save lives.” When asked about her future after the hit show, she is very clear: “I am an ambitious person, and I have a lot more I want to accomplish for myself and for other people. I’m going to do it all.”

THE NEXT CHAPTER

Bomgaars’ television career allowed her a platform to turn her interests and hobbies into profitable businesses. She began pitching her clothing brand, “Megalogy,” which started as a fun tie-dye project for her friends and family, to retailers around the world. Her persistence and hard work resulted in a partnership with Sanrio’s “Hello Kitty” brand! Bomgaars sells her clothes online at megology.com.

Following her success in the clothing industry, Bomgaars teamed up with ArtPop Cosmetics to develop cosmetics. She hand-selected colors and products for a collection of lipsticks, which she named “Don’t Limit Me.” Moreover, she modeled the makeup in a stylized photoshoot organized by ArtPop Cosmetics to market the brand.

Bomgaars has moved back to Colorado and reconnected with Global. She spoke at Global’s World Down Syndrome Day celebration at the state capitol and at the Grand Opening Ceremony of Global’s new headquarters.

During the summer, Bomgaars was the opening keynote speaker for Global’s “Advocacy Workshop for Families, Science & Society” at the Trisomy 21 Research Society biennial conference in Barcelona, Spain, and the keynote at Global’s Research and Medical Care Roundtable at the NDSC Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“At Global, we stress the importance of highlighting our self-advocates at every event,” says Michelle Sie Whitten, Global President and CEO. “How can we have conversations about the future of people with Down syndrome if they’re not in the room, contributing to the conversation?”

“Barcelona was really my first event all about science. To be honest, I was nervous and excited,” says Bomgaars.

“We were in a new country with world-renowned scientists and doctors from all over the world, many of whom spoke different languages, and Megan just knocked it out of the park,” says Kris Bomgaars, Megan Bomgaars’ mom.

To top it all off, Bomgaars has started college at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to study communications and business.

“Megan is a leader and role model,” says Whitten. “She has incredible poise, timing, and intelligence. She also works very hard to be successful. That is why were are so proud to present her with our 2019 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award at Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show.”

Clearly, this 26-year old powerhouse is going to do it all.


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