Cy And Joyce Brigish Star In A Book

In 1968, Alan and Joyce Brigish had their first child. When Cy was diagnosed with Down syndrome, many people advised them to put him in an institution, then go on with their lives.

Against the prevailing wisdom of the day, the couple decided to keep their family together.

They spent years advocating for a child who was not like most others. They also offered him every opportunity to reach his potential educationally, socially and spiritually.

Cy Brigish

Every day there were challenges, frustrations and triumphs. While raising Cy — and her 2 other children, Hal and Jackie, in Westport — Joyce also worked for the inclusion of all people with disabilities.

She did it with patience, kindness, diligence and fortitude. In doing so, she helped change public sentiment concerning people who, historically, were marginalized.

STAR, Inc. Lighting the Way has long been a big part of Cy’s life. Established in 1952 by parents who believed that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were entitled to the same basic opportunities as other children, today STAR is a not-for-profit organization with a full array of services for over 600 people from birth to their senior years — and for their families.

STAR helps those individuals live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth. Services include early intervention for infants and preschoolers; family support; job assessment and training; recreation and leisure activities, and support to adults in group homes and apartments.

The other day, Alan donated copies of a book to STAR. It’s called “Joyce’s Way: Finding Normality Despite Disability.”

Written by Susan Klein, it’s the story of his wife. Klein shows how Joyce and her family helped Cy reach his potential, while helping pioneer a new way of seeing people with disabilities.

STAR, in turn, donated copies of “Joyce’s Way” to local libraries.

Today, Cy — a star STAR client — works 2 jobs: at Garavel Chrysler Jeep and Panera Bread. He lives independently, and recently turned 50.

Joyce was not there that day. She died of cancer in 2016.

But her legacy of inclusion, advocacy and love remains. Now it lives on, in the pages of the book her husband donated to STAR, and which will be passed along, far and wide.

(To order o copy of “Joyce’s Way,” click here. For information about STAR, including how to donate or volunteer, click here or call 203-846-9581, ext. 302.)

9 responses to “Cy And Joyce Brigish Star In A Book

  1. I read it and it’s great. A real testament to both of them.

  2. Wonderful, but sad, story. Thanks, Dan.

  3. Joyce and Alan were among the leaders back in the day to establish full inclusion for their son Sy, who is really one of the terrific people that I’ve ever met. My family to his had made this journey, with our daughter Jenna, who many reading this post will know as she is Laura Blair‘s companion at all of the Staples high school sporting events for the last 30 years. Jenna thrives regardless of her disabilities because of all the people around her who care, Star Lighting the Way is a critical component providing day program supervisory support and advocacy for all people in the area who have intellectual disabilities.

  4. This story is a wonderful and touching flash to my memory and should be a celebration of this family.
    In the early 1980’s, after graduating from college I had the opportunity of being a teacher’s aide in Cy’s classroom, working with this group of amazing children. The program at the time was called CDC in Coleytown Elementary School. What I remember most is the brightness, warmth and hope in the eyes of Cy and his classmates, and their constant enthusiasm. It was a time in my life that I gained a deeper insight to children and families, and the challenges and rewards. I worked with certain teachers at that time that instilled patience, compassion, dedication and courage.
    I truly look forward to reading this book. What an incredible legacy; to be a powerful part of encouraging the awareness of “inclusion, advocacy and love”.
    Thank you Joyce and kudos to you Cy!

  5. very nice story. Thank you.

  6. Sharon Paulsen


    I remember Jenna well, along with several other intellectually challenged individuals, which you brought into our sphere of awareness, and sometimes employed, during the 1990’s Quick Copy days!

    I just recently moved to Southbury, having sold my home in Trumbull, and did a quick drive by of the Southbury Training School, during a “chefs tour” that my mother was giving me about the area.

    Very interesting trip, and stirred up some memories of what I’d learned from you about that institution, and of your infusion of awareness as to how we can change our minds about anyone with any sort of disability.

    I am somewhat late to game, in terms of verbalizing what I’ve learned, but nonetheless, woke.

    And thanks, Dan, for another great post!

    (Oh, and I just turned 50 myself this year. Love to see a generational contemporary of mine doing so well … likely better than I, come to think of it! And, I’ve also seen Laura Blair all over the place, at random times, for decades now. Wow, right? Just can’t quit!)

    • Sharon Paulsen


      My comment/reply was meant for Mickey Herbst specifically, but seems to have landed within the general comment thread (?) my bad, if so … just wanted to clarify! 😉

  7. Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

    This is a touching story of a Mother’s (and Father’s) love, committment & determination to a “special” child. In spite of prevailing beliefs of those times (the 60’s & 70’s), these parents were determined to nurture, cultivate and maximize this child’s potential. Ultimately they created a new paradigm going forward for all these “special” children, to be seen & heard, and accepted in all aspects of Communities. They should be very proud of their son, whom they advocated for, and who became became this self sufficient grown adult. They have set the “new” bar forever.