Throughout Annie’s illness and with her passing, we have been touched and overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, care and compassion from all of those who knew her. Recently, there was a post on Annie’s Facebook page that read, “Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief there was great love.” Annie was the epitome of love. She loved unconditionally and her love was far reaching. Those she loved and regarded as friends truly outnumbered the stars in the sky. Remembering this about her life and the legacy she leaves behind is helping our deeply grieving hearts to heal. Amid this difficult time, there are no words to fully express our gratitude for all those stars in Annie’s life. As hard as this journey has been and continues to be, the blessings we have experienced and are experiencing through Annie far outweigh the grief of losing her. Thank you for easing our pain and for keeping her spirit alive through your kind words and generosity.
Annie M. Forts, 49, died peacefully on May 26, 2016 surrounded by her loving family. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey on March 10, 1967, Annie came into this world with a mission to spread joy and friendship to all she encountered.
Annie’s boundless energy, poise and determination helped break down the stigmas attached to those with physical and mental disabilities. A graduate of Moultonborough Academy, Annie was a motivational speaker and self-advocate who traveled the country spreading her positive message of living on the “UP” side of Down Syndrome. Annie believed passionately in the importance of recognizing and celebrating each individual’s abilities and differences, and she shared this message with audiences large and small around the country.
In addition to spending her time as a motivational speaker, Annie believed strongly in volunteerism and hard work. She was an active member and greeter at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Meredith, a 20+ year member of and proud “tail twister” for the Moultonborough Lion’s Club, a volunteer at Moultonborough Academy, Inter-Lakes School District and Golden View nursing home. Annie found great joy playing (and winning) Bingo and mini-golf, singing Karaoke, chatting on the phone and just enjoying time with her many, many family members and friends.
Among Annie’s numerous awards and accomplishments, she was the first recipient of the International Self-Empowerment Award given by the Kennedy Foundation at the United Nations, she was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and served 3 terms on the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, and she received the Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award.
Annie is survived by her loving parents Bernie and Shirley Forts with whom she lived, her three devoted siblings Brian and Carla Forts of Holden, MA; Sheri and Jim MacMillan of Meredith, NH; and Jeff and Patricia Forts of Shrewsbury MA. Annie also leaves 8 adoring nieces and nephews, Jared, Amy, Meredith, Heather, Michael, Sarah, Kevin and Kathryn and 10 great nieces and nephews. True to her old adage, Annie leaves behind more friends than there are stars in the sky.
In 1997 Annie started the “Annie Forts UP Syndrome Fund” with the support of the Moultonborough Lion’s Club. Dedicated to opening windows of opportunity through education and experience, to date Annie’s fund has raised over $325,000 towards her goal of $1M, and more importantly, the fund has helped provide enrichment opportunities to persons with Down Syndrome and to help support individuals interested in pursuing a career in Special Education.
The family is sincerely grateful to the Central NH VNA & Hospice staff. These professionals cared for Annie with the utmost respect and love in her final months. And especially thankful to Mayhew Funeral Home (www.mayhewfuneralhomes.com) in Meredith for their compassionate handling of the wake and funeral. Lastly thanking Rev. Dennis J. Audet, pastor, for his wonderful words at her funeral. Private burial will be in the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery, in Boscawen.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made through the Contribute page of this website or by check sent to the Annie Forts UP Syndrome Fund, PO Box 838, Moultonborough, NH 03254
In 1997, as part of a community-wide celebration to honor member Annie Forts, the Moultonboro Lions Club decided to help Ann realize her dream to start a new fund to assist and encourage young people with Down Syndrome. The fund was incorporated in NH as The Annie Forts “UP” Syndrome Fund, Inc. and approved by IRS as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable fund. $50,000 was raised at the celebration. Over $300,000 has been received in donations to date towards Ann’s ultimate goal of $1,000,000. Only interest earned is used to provide enrichment opportunities to persons with Down Syndrome and to help support individuals interested in pursuing a career in Special Education. Since the fund was started in 1997, the awards committee for Annie’s Fund has issued financial awards totaling $115,000.
February 27, 2002, Washington, DC- Annie was awarded the Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. Annie was one of seven recipients chosen from over 400 nominees.