CLERMONT, Fla. — A Clermont woman with Down syndrome is breaking stereotypes. A doctor said she wouldn’t be employable because of her disability. That same woman now owns her own business with customers across the nation.

What You Need To Know

  • Allison Fogarty was born with Down syndrome and tracheoesophageal fistula

  • When she was 11, she needed a G-tube in her stomach

  • She was not able to eat or drink for two years but felt a connection to food

  • Now she runs her own business, making healthy dog treats

Allison Fogarty is making her dreams a reality.

“[I want] to be a chef, just like Rachael Ray,” Fogarty said. “She saved my life since I was so sick.”

Fogarty was born with Down syndrome and tracheoesophageal fistula, also known as TEF, which is an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea. When she was 11, she needed a gastronomy tube (G-tube) in her stomach to provide nutrition to her directly. She was not able to eat or drink for two years, but during that time, she felt a connection to food and watched the Food Network .

She’s now "Chef Allison," although her food is not for humans. She makes hundreds of dog treats a day and ships them nationwide through her business, Doggy Delights. Right now, she makes them with her parents, but her next step is to have her own storefront, eventually hiring other people with disabilities.

Her mother, Pat Fogarty, has been by her side all along. She said Allison wouldn’t be in her current situation if it weren't for help from the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

Fogarty learned what she needed to switch her chef’s hat to a business cap from the organization, giving her the tools to put together the business. Pat said it was never her daughter’s disability that got in the way, but she needed help understanding the accounting aspect of a successful business. Even with being so close to resources in a metropolitan city, Pat said there isn’t enough to meet the great need.

“There’s so many situations where people need help and you’re in line, you’re waiting,” Pat Fogarty said. 

But for Chef Allison, the sky’s the limit, as long as she works hard.

“My favorite line from "Hairsprayis [from] this guy named Wilbur, [who is played by] Christopher Walken," Allison said. "He always says, ‘You have to think big to be big, you gotta dream big to be big’. ”