Our first Ava’s 5K for Down Syndrome, was created by a few friends who thought it would be fun to hold a race that raised money for Down syndrome advocacy. We said, “If we get 100 participants, we have a race.” Three hundred people attended last year’s event. We were overwhelmed at the magnitude and generosity of our participants to say the least. In so, Ava’s T21 Foundation was created as a way to take things to the next level and continue to make a difference in our community.
Our motto at Ava’s T21 Foundation is “Inclusion, Awareness, Compassion”. These three little words have a very significant meaning. Inclusion is defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. In the Down syndrome community, inclusion means a lot of things. As children, it means that children with Down syndrome are in the same classrooms as typical peers. This allows them to be able to experience school the same way that every child does. I see this everyday with Ava. She is in a typical classroom with her typical peers and she has no less than a million friends. Inclusion is a beautiful thing when you are able to see its results. For the child with the special need, it gives them a sense of camaraderie. They are encouraged and challenged by their peers to be the best they can be. For the typical children, it teaches them things that can never be learned in a book. It teaches them to be kind, gentle, patient and caring. These are traits that will carry them through to adulthood and make them better people. It’s a win-win situation.
Next is awareness. Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal conditional, with 1 in every 691 babies being born with it. Down syndrome occurs across every race, religion, and economic level. It occurs in every maternal age group, with 80% of babies with Down syndrome being born to mothers under the age of 35. Chances are, if you don’t already know someone with Down syndrome, you will at some point in your life. Awareness doesn’t just mean knowing statistics. It means being aware that individuals with Down syndrome can accomplish just about anything that a person without it can. It just might take them a little longer. People with Down syndrome graduate high school, go to college, hold jobs, live independently, get married, and have wonderful fulfilling lives.
Finally, there is compassion. Compassion is pretty self-explanatory. When you have inclusion and awareness in communities, compassion is sure to follow.
When you support Ava’s T21 Foundation, whether by registering for Ava’s 5K or a personal donation, your support will have a direct impact on an individual with Down syndrome and their families. Proceeds from Ava’s 5K will benefit the National Down Syndrome Society, which plays an important role in government awareness for those with Down syndrome. Proceeds also benefit F.R.I.E.N.D.S, a Frederick based Down syndrome advocacy group. F.R.I.E.N.D.S, directly supports local individuals and their families by hosting monthly meetings, conferences, supplying scholarships and hosting summer camps.
If you have already registered for Ava’s 5K for Down Syndrome, thank you!! If you have not, please consider showing your support for a cause that truly helps an amazing group of individuals. To register, please visit active.com. If you wish to make a donation, please visit avast21foundation.org. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.