You can also get involved in the annual National Buddy Walk Program, which seeks to raise awareness and funds for Down syndrome research by hosting walking events throughout the country. Watch a public service announcement for the National Buddy Walk Program below, which features TV hosts Nancy O’Dell (also a Parents magazine columnist) and Meredith Vieira, along with actors John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”) and Chris Burke (“Life Goes On”).
Look for more Parents.com/NDSS.org resources later this month or head over to Ellen Seidman’s blog, To the Max, which is chronicling stories to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness. If you have a story to share, you can also participate in the My Great Story campaign, which encourages families to share their stories on NDSS.org.
Today’s special date was chosen as World Down Syndrome Day for its symbolism — the numbers 3 and 21 represent ”the third copy of chromosome 21 present in Trisomy 21, the most common form of Down syndrome.” According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS.org), “this additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.” The NDSS Down Syndrome Fact Sheet also reveals that 1 in every 691 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome, and there are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in our country.
Join in increasing Down syndrome awareness today and every day. You can read 21 Facts About Down Syndrome, click on the jump below to read a Preferred Language Guide, and tweet on Twitter using the #321 hashtag.
Next month is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and to help celebrate, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) will hold Buddy Walks in more than 250 communities around the country. The goals of the Buddy Walks are to promote acceptance and inclusion for people with Down syndrome and to raise funds for local programs. This Saturday, September 24, my uncle, Chris Burke, will attend New York City’s Buddy Walk in Central Park.
Chris is best known for playing Corky on the TV show “Life Goes On” from 1989-1993. Since then, he’s made lots of TV appearances, traveled around the world speaking to families, and since 1994 he’s served as NDSS’ Goodwill Ambassador. (Chris is a big part of why I feel so strongly about people misusing the word “retarded.”) That’s us in the picture, with his mom and my grandmother, taken during one of our many vacations together. This one was in Key West when I was about 6 and Chris was probably 13.
NDSS has a cool program called My Great Story, which honors those who have Down syndrome by sharing stories that highlight their achievements. I was touched that Chris chose to write about his dad (my grandfather); I also love the story NDSS founder Betsy Goodwin wrote about her daughter, Carson, otherwise known as “The Mayor of Main Street.” Carson works as a greeter at Sephora and sometimes Betsy will park outside the store to watch the reactions of the customers as they come and go. She loves to see how many of them leave smiling: “If I had been told 30 years ago that my new baby would spread so much good will, it would have made those difficult first months a little easier,” she writes. “But then, of course, one never knows what each baby’s particular gifts will be. We only know that each will have some.”
To participate in a Buddy Walk near you—and by the way, you don’t need to know someone with Down syndrome to walk—click here. Take a few minutes to be inspired by the loving entries in My Great Story. And if you do have a loved one with Down syndrome, share a story of your own.