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Meet Jessica Patay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Patay. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Jessica Patay is passionate about serving caregiving moms and creating authentic communities. She has always fostered deep, life-giving friendships and is intentional about growing her community of girlfriends. As a caregiving mom herself, this passion for relationships carries on as she gathers women through We Are Brave Together – to encourage them, mentor them, inspire them, and validate their intense and precious journeys.

Her own story as a mom to a child with a disability began in 2003 when her second son, Ryan, was born and diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome. Within two days of receiving this diagnosis, she received a phone call from a mentor mom from the Prader-Willi California Foundation. Immediately she felt relief and comfort knowing she was not alone. Thankfully, Ryan is sandwiched in the middle of siblings Luke and Kate, both fierce and loving cheerleaders and helpers to Ryan.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a twisty road over the last 19 years. Challenging for Ryan and challenging for us. Ryan’s food drive (known as hyperphagia) requires us parents to be vigilant in keeping the kitchen locked 24/7 and watching his food intake. We follow a “food schedule” and are always reassuring Ryan that we will provide for his needs. Food is like air to Ryan so he can get really insecure about his food needs being met, even though he has never missed a meal or a snack in his lifetime. Another challenging feature of PWS is anxiety. Ryan has a lot of anxiety and can be triggered easily. This cannot be pleasant for him, and it is definitely difficult on our family. I feel like we walk on eggshells to an extent, still, to this day. He has been mostly free of medical issues and complications, thankfully, with the exception of scoliosis and spinal fusion surgery that was needed. What smooths out a twisty road in parenting is COMMUNITY & CONNECTION with others. I have had wonderful mentors and friends in the world of rare diseases and disabilities. These friendships forged in the fire have strengthened me, given me joy and helped me feel not so alone.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am very honored to share that I founded and launched We Are Brave Together, a 501(c)(3) organization in 2017. The heart of We Are Brave Together is to strengthen, encourage, inspire, and validate all moms of children with disabilities through their unique and difficult caregiving journeys. To be a caregiving mom is to be a mother who cares for any child or adult child with any type of challenge: medical, mental, behavioral, genetic, developmental, psychiatric, learning, cognitive, or physical. The We Are Brave Together community is woven with one common thread; we are here to support and strengthen one another. Our hope is that every caregiving mom leaves a Brave Together retreat, gathering, workshop, support group or online event feeling both recharged and empowered. Your story matters, and you are not alone.

Our mission is to combat the isolation and compassion fatigue that mothers face by offering support groups, education, retreats, retreat scholarships and our podcast, Brave Together with Jessica Patay. We have grown into an international community of 1800 caregiving moms. I currently serve as the Executive Director of We Are Brave Together and host the podcast.

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