A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Denise Babjak

Denise-BabjakBorn and raised in Northwest Indiana, Denise Babjak has always felt a sense of devotion to the community she loves so much, which is why she chose to stay and raise her family here.

Though Babjak runs a local business full-time, she has devoted a lot of her time for the past two and a half years to the non-profit organization she started called Chasing Dreams. Chasing Dreams is a center providing various programs and help to everyone that is affected by Down Syndrome. Available to seven counties, six days a week, the organization helps fill in the gap for families by having scheduled social, physical, and educational programs that will give a positive outcome in their lives.

"When my husband and I had our daughter, Lainy, we found ourselves in the same position as every other family affected by Down Syndrome," Babjak said. "We were overwhelmed, and had no idea of where to start. So, we decided to start Chasing Dreams to help create a broader scope of services in the area."

As Founder, CEO, and Board President, Babjak has her hands full with all different aspects of the organizations. She makes sure she helps with every detail and avenue of Chasing Dreams in order to continue to help it grow. She ensures that the volunteers have everything they need in order to effectively help the families coming to their center, as well as making sure they provide various programs for the families to take full advantage of.

"My goal is to fulfill the needs and reasonable wants for the children and their families," Babjak said. "I never wanted another family to feel alone, confused, or scared when they have their precious baby. That is a time to celebrate and welcome the baby into the world. I want the entire family to feel accepted and supported. That's why this vision is so important to me."

Babjak and the rest of her volunteer staff diligently work every day to make sure their offered programs are exactly what the families need. The programs have all been carefully selected to pay close attention to the many challenges and obstacles that children with Down Syndrome and their families may face. All twenty-four of their programs are paired together to help stimulate social, emotional, physical, and independent growth in the children.

"Watching the children excel, watching them change – it's such an incredible thing," Babjak said. "We get to see such a huge growth within these children, and it's so wonderful to watch."

Every year, Babjak and the rest of the staff hold fundraisers for their center's general funds. The families that come to their center are number one to them and they want to endure that their services remain free, so that they have one less thing to worry about. Babjak and her staff sponsor various restaurant fundraisers, annual golf outings, galas, and are hosting their first 5k in March.

In what remains of her free time, Babjak enjoys nothing more than spending time with her husband and daughter.