Editor’s note: All throughout March, 9OYS is showcasing women in the Eastern North Carolina area. It’s part of Nexstar’s Remarkable Women contest. Four finalists have been chosen by WNCT. The finalists will be showcased all month with the winner announced at the end of the month. That winner will advance to the national competition where a winner will be announced later in the year.


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — On a Saturday afternoon, when most people are outside enjoying their weekend, Holly Connor was busy setting up the monthly meeting of the Down Syndrome Network of Onslow and Carteret counties on a Saturday afternoon.

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“I want to try and help other families navigate the system so they can get what they need for their children,” said Connor. “As a parent, nobody gives you that manual to say ‘here, this is how this is going to work.’ And ‘this is how you’re going to get what you need for your child’.”

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Holly spoke and gave important advice on different resources available for parents of children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, also known as IDD.

She spoke from her own experiences. Her son, Cody, is the inspiration behind why Holly does what she does.

“My oldest is 21. And he has intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is on the spectrum as well,” said Connor. “He’s in his own world. And I think he’s really happy there. So, fortunately, he probably really doesn’t understand that side of it. I know he’s proud of me in the best way that he knows. He knows how to be proud of me.”

Connor has been vocal and active in the local IDD community for the last 14 years.

“Just hoping that families know that they’re not alone, and that they’re not isolated, and that there are other families out there that are willing to listen and understand and come from a place of empathy,” said Connor. “My true vision of this is about making things better for our families and for individuals with IDD. And I think I’m blessed to have people in my life that have been great mentors and who have done the same for me, and they see I’m just paying it forward just like I was given.”

She will ultimately keep pushing for more funding, awareness and availability of services.