"As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the need to nurture, love and be loved increases." American Assoc Geriatric Psychiatrists
An Unexpected Friendship
Gertie is her name and his name is Kenneth… Kenneth Faried, the star NBA player for the Denver Nuggets. At first glance, they seem to have nothing in common, but they actually have an AMAZING friendship. Gertie first met Kenneth several years ago at a Special Olympics event with the Denver Nuggets NBA basketball team. Being from Colorado, Gertie has always been a big fan of his. A year later, Gertie was in a Down Syndrome fashion show and her escort was Kenneth! They bonded immediately and never looked back.
In 2016 at the beginning of the school year, Gertie told her mother she wanted to invite Kenneth to come and be her Show and Tell friend at her school. Gertie’s mother, Heidi, contacted Kenneth and invited him. Kenneth didn’t bat an eye; he just asked when and where and said he would be there. Both of their lives changed and they have never been the same since.
Memorable Pets & Believable Babies learned of this story because Gertie’s mother bought one of our handmade art Reborn baby dolls for Gertie’s birthday on October 13th. After her birthday had come and gone, Heidi reached out to us to tell us how happy Gertie was with her new baby. I asked Heidi if Gertie had given the baby doll a name and she then explained to me the friendship and love that Gertie has for Kenneth Faried, the NBA star. Heidi said Gertie named her baby “Kenneth”, even though her new reborn baby doll is a girl.
Heidi explained that she ordered the doll through Memorable Pets & Believable Babies because we give 10% of the proceeds to Alzheimer’s research. She told me that Gertie has Down Syndrome and that over 50% of people with Down Syndrome get Alzheimer’s when they are young adults, often in their 30’s. Heidi said it is something she is passionate about and that her grandfather had Alzheimer’s.
Heidi went on to say that Kenneth is such an amazing person. He always makes sure to give Gertie a hug or high five at the games, and he even has let her warm up with him before a game. Heidi said her family is truly blessed to have him in their lives. One cute story that Heidi shared is about how Gertie signed her own gym shoe and gave it to Kenneth. So, after the Nuggets’ last game of the year, Kenneth ran up to Gertie, took off his shoe, signed it, and said now they both have each other’s shoe!
To make things even more interesting, our daughter Jessica went to Morehead State University in Kentucky during the same time Kenneth Faried played basketball for Morehead State in 2011. Kenneth put Morehead State on the map by upsetting the University of Louisville’s team during the first round of the NCAA tournament. Kenneth was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft.
Last year Gertie wrote to The Ellen Show with a request to share her story about her best friend Kenneth Faried. Ellen accepted the request, and they are coordinating schedules to be on The Ellen Show in the near future!
Heidi’s last message to me said it has truly been amazing to watch Gertie and Kenneth together and to see how much love they have for each other. She thanked me for the beautiful baby and for helping make it possible to one day find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Heidi ended her message with, “You are making the world a better place!”
Kenneth's nickname is the "Manimal" so Gertie nicknamed herself the "Fanimal"!