Respite Story Olsens

A Respite Story: The Olsens

Thanks for joining us for another respite story courtesy of the Olsen Family. If you haven’t read last week’s post about the Pinkertons, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. For those unfamiliar with the topic of respite, it is simply a break for a primary caregiver. This break could be an hour to run errands or a week of camp for their child with a developmental disability. Respite breathes new life into the loving people who give their time to care for the needs of others.


We started the Respite Initiative in 2016 to respond to families’ requests for greater funding and opportunities to care for themselves & their families. We’re also highlighting this need for our 2017 Colorado Gives Day campaign in partnership with The SUN Foundation.

As we mentioned last week, we’re bringing you a handful of real stories on our blog and social media to show the positive impact respite can have on family life. We hope you take away several things:

  1. The life-changing nature of a few hours for caregiver and recipient to be independent of each other
  2. The incredible work of our community partners who provide respite
  3. The existing need to make these opportunities available for more families


Julia and Adam Olsen connected with Developmental Pathways 6 years ago when they moved to Aurora for Adam’s residency program. Their daughter, Brooklyn, has Down’s Syndrome. With a few other kids to run after, both time and money were tight. They quickly tapped into Pathways’ opportunities for respite by attending recurring Parent’s Night Out events put on by the Community Outreach Department. Like the Pinkerton family, the Olsens found both adventure and renewal through Adam’s Camp. Brooklyn’s siblings painted, rode horses, and spent time reflecting on the joys and challenges of growing up alongside their sister, Brooklyn. Mom, Julia, says the best part is that the whole family was included. All 7 of them got some time to decompress and enjoy community with other families.

A few years and children later, the Olsens participated in Developmental Pathways first ever Respitality event in August 2016. The entire family, along with 24 other families, went on an overnight staycation. The kids enjoyed an outing to the Trails Recreation Center and swimming while the adults participated in a casino night. Months later, Brooklyn still talks about “going to stay in the hotel.”

These days the Olsens don’t have to rely as heavily on free respite opportunities. However, they appreciate them no less than when they first arrived in Colorado. They jump into whatever respite events Pathways puts, often providing time to enjoy time together as a couple. Julia says she appreciates that Brooklyn is well taken care of and can take part in activities that she may never have otherwise…such as a family trip to Disneyland with help from the Family Support Services Program.

All in all, the Olsens are most grateful for the memorable experiences they’ve had as a family made possible by respite funding.

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Be sure to visit our Community Impact page, or read more Family Stories to hear more about the other incredible families we have the privilege to support.