A Letter from A Friend about Dawn Oates

By Nicole Russo

Dawn Silvia Oates is a petit woman with a larger than life personality who can command a room with her smarts, sparkle and charm. Dawn does not shy away from uncomfortable topics- she confronts them head-on with solutions. Dawn has a boundless energy and a constant positive outlook on life- no matter what life has brought her way.

Dawn is a mom of three children, but she is also so much more. Dawn is an inspiration and she has lived a more fascinating life than most people could ever imagine. She is a philanthropist. She is an entrepreneur. She is a game changer. She has been on national TV as a former Martha Stewart  “Apprentice” contestant. She counts Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel as a friend.  She is a born-and-bred New Englander. She is a marketing professional. She has had the children of supermodels and athletes over to swim in her pool. She runs marathons. She participated in a charity race and was stung by wasps. She is learning how to professionally dance with a partner for a fundraiser. She does more in one day than most people do in a week. But most importantly, she is an advocate for those with special needs.

Dawn’s the mom of twins and her youngest child, Harper, was born with spinal cord injuries. Harper loves playing with her siblings and they love going to the park together, but Dawn’s heart would hurt every time she watched her twins play on all the playground equipment while she and Harper watched from afar. Not one to sit idle, Dawn decided to do something about it. On her own, she utilized her friends and contacts and created a non-profit called the Play Brigade which raises funds to make playgrounds all-inclusive for children with all abilities.

Through all of the challenges that her and her family have faced through the years, Dawn has never stopped smiling and looking for solutions. Dawn once told me that it isn’t just for Harper, but she is speaking for the parents of children with disabilities that don’t have a voice and a network to make this happen. She is doing it for them because they don’t have the resources to do it themselves. She wants Harper to live in a world where she feels included and make it a little easier and more enjoyable for her, while she is at it. Dawn’s drive is so persuasive that you want to do anything you can to help her make her vision happen. Dawn is going to change the world for people with disabilities and as her friend, I am honored to be cheering her on while she does it.


From more on Dawn Oates and the The Play Brigade check out the interview.

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