Get off the couch and help…my Buddy Walk 2010 experience

According to the National Association for Down Syndrome “Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It occurs in approximately one in every 800 live births. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. The most important fact to know about individuals with Down syndrome is that they are more like others than they are different.”

There is a common misconception that older mothers have a greater risk of delivering a child with Down syndrome.  I was surprised to learn that 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to mothers under the age of 35.  A close friend of mine delivered her child with Down syndrome when she was 20.

This past weekend I participated in the 2010 Pittsburgh Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness.  It was an amazing event.  I can not stress enough that although children and adults with Down syndrome can have some developmental setbacks, they also have many talents that should be encouraged.  I participated in the walk this year because of a beautiful three year old that was born with Down syndrome.  I’ve known this little girl and her mother for almost a year and they have changed my life in ways I just can’t articulate.

Many children with Down syndrome have significant medical problems and she has had many this past year, from having her gallbladder removed to numerous trips to the hospital because her immune system isn’t strong enough to fight most colds.  It’s frustrating to watch this little cutie suffer.  Can you imagine having your gallbladder removed before you have even turned 3.  Thankfully she has loving parents and a very supportive extended family. 

So how can we help?  Reach out to your local support group.  Here in Pittsburgh we have the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh.  Volunteer your time or donate your money.  Sponsor a Denim Days at your office with proceeds going to your local Down Syndrome Association.  Participate in your local Buddy Walk and find someone to match whatever funds you raise.  I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you may ever have.  How do you give back to your community?

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