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Meet Alaura!

Updated: Aug 1


Some may wonder what the word ‘special’ represents within a special need’s person. If you ask this question to anyone who has encountered the magical presence of a special need’s person, you will receive a wide smile beam across their face. It’s a specific smile that is shared with everyone in our little community that holds our little secret—a secret that we keep tucked in our sleeves because only we know the powers behind their inner beauty.


Judy and Dan Mowrey are no strangers to our secret smile.


On March 13, 1990, Judy and Dan were blessed with their daughter, Alaura, a beautiful, strong woman with Down Syndrome. At the time of her birth, Alaura faced many medical complications, as many babies with Down Syndrome do.


“We have endured much during her life living with Down Syndrome, but she, nor we, have never defined her life as ‘Down Syndrome’. Alaura is a beautiful soul and an angel on Earth. Most of all, she is the love of her family.”



Part of the magic behind individuals with Down Syndrome is they enter this world fighting for their lives and have the strength to overcome the unthinkable as tiny infants. Alaura’s fighting spirit and determination have become her superpower as she plows through any obstacles life gives her.


“Being a part of the Down Syndrome community for the past 31 years, we have witnessed some unkind stares and comments. But we never focused on that,” Judy said, “What we did focus on was the special ability that Alaura and others have to make you smile—to make you see the innocence and purity of love. We all could learn from them.”


Judy and Dan were determined to not let ‘Down Syndrome’ run Alaura’s life. Down Syndrome may be a part of her, but it will not be the thing that breaks her.


In 1995, they decided to open the Pretzel’s Plus store, which then blossomed their concession and catering business, MMG, in 2000. Alaura would help her parents with the companies by helping stock products and handing out napkins. Although medical conditions prevented her from being on her feet for too long, Alaura wholeheartedly meets each task to the best of her abilities and gives it her all.



After learning about Seth & Co, Judy was thrilled to know there is a movement towards giving people like Seth and Alaura an opportunity to be involved in their community and feel their self-worth.


Judy said, “When Desiree called me to tell me that her son, Seth, who also has Downs Syndrome, was going to start a coffee company, I could not have been more excited knowing that this would be an amazing opportunity for all individuals with special needs.”

She gave Seth & Co. a space to serve our coffee and helped us provide an outlet for our special needs staff to start developing their skills in the workplace.



Judy said, “We decided to join forces and operate out of the Pretzel Plus Store enabling all special needs people to fulfill their needs to be active in the workforce, along with making friends, sharing comradery all while offering a great cup of coffee to our customers.”


She knows the dire need in our community for not only inclusion but also a line of communication for others to learn what having a special need is all about.


In the past, people have asked her and her husband, “Do you think Alaura is happy?” “Would you change her being Down Syndrome if you could?”


“Alaura is our greatest gift,” Judy says, “No, we would not change anything about our sweet, loving daughter who truly gives love unconditionally.”


There is a raw beauty in experiencing the darkest aspects of life and come out the end of the tunnel exuding immense love, light, and warmth.


This is the secret behind our secret smiles.




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