Last week, amid a hectic schedule working two jobs to support her family in Whitefish, Corinne Bludworth dropped everything and rushed to the hospital.
Corinne’s 25-year-old daughter, Jordan, who has Down syndrome, had suffered her second stroke, the result of a rare cerebrovascular disorder called Moyamoya disease. She was released from the hospital but remains prone to more strokes until doctors can perform surgery to try to remove the blocked arteries causing the interruption in her blood supply.
Jordan’s medical emergency was the latest unfortunate incident for the Bludworths in recent months.
Corinne’s husband, Donald, has been laid up since November after an accident at work, while their 20-year-old son suffered an accident of his own at a separate job that also has him recovering at home. Adding to the family’s stress levels, a grand daughter is on the way.
Since her husband’s injury, Corinne has taken on a second job, cleaning a medical office four nights a week while working 40 hours a week as a manager for Remedies Day Spa.
“You just do what you got to do,” she says. “We’re not used to struggling like this. It puts everything in perspective.”
Through it all, Corinne has been her family’s rock — positive, perseverant, loving, willing to sacrifice. Or as friends and family have described her — amazing.
“She gives and gives so much of herself and asks for nothing in return,” says Deb Carmichael, a longtime high school friend. “In the past seven to eight months, life has thrown her some wrenches. But she still maintains a positive attitude. I think that really reflects the type of mom she is.”
A national group that celebrates and honors motherhood agrees.
Earlier this year, Corinne was named Montana’s Mother of the Year. It marked the second consecutive year that a mom from the Flathead Valley earned the exceptional distinction. American Mothers, an organization founded in 1935 that annually selects one top mom from each state and Puerto Rico, named Sabrina Wisher of Kalispell the 2014 Mother of the Year for Montana. Wisher nominated Corinne for the 2015 honor, and the selection committee approved.
“It still boggles my mind that I was even considered for it,” Corinne says. “I try. That’s all you can do, is try.”
But based on a qualification required, Corinne fits the bill.
“I draw a lot of different things from her as far as how she’s raised her kids and the type of mom she is,” Carmichael says.
“She never quits. She never gives up. I really admire that about her.”
Born in Shelby, Corinne got married at 18 and had her first son at 19.
She and her husband have three children who are now in their 20s, including Jordan, who Corinne had when she was 20. At the time, a doctor urged Corinne and Donald to put Jordan up for adoption or commit her to an institution. For a pair of young parents, raising a child with Down syndrome could be a heavy task.
“I remember my mom said, ‘You just suck it up. She’s going to be amazing and wonderful,’ and she is,” Corinne says.
They raised Jordan the only way they knew how — with love and respect. Today, Jordan is 25 and defies the stigma of those with Down syndrome, working alongside her mother at the spa and helping at home with everyday tasks.
“They are just normal every day people. They don’t need special concessions. Some people treat people with Down syndrome like they’re slow and stupid. They’re not,” Corinne says.
“I can’t imagine life without her.”
Raising a daughter with Down syndrome has taught Corinne a lot.
“When you have a kid with Down syndrome you can’t be in a rush, you can’t be in a hurry. You have to build this enormous amount of patience. It changes everything. But we’re really lucky.”
Since 2013, Corinne has organized the Flathead Valley Buddy Walk, a free event that promotes the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome during Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. It annually attracts 180-250 people.
Now when Corinne is out and about, people frequently recognize her and say, “Hey, it’s the Buddy Walk Lady.”
“It’s really awesome,” she says.
Being the humble person that she is, Corinne doesn’t take the credit or consider herself exceptional. She says her children made her a better person and taught her compassion and kindness.
When it comes to making sacrifices like the ones she has made, she says she just loves her family and would do anything for them.
“I’m just a mom,” she says.
Carmichael set up an online fundraising site for Corinne to attend the American Mothers’ national conference later this month, where she would be recognized as Montana’s Mother of the Year. Any extra funds raised will go toward Jordan’s care. The site is gofundme.com/montanasmother15.
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