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Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 2011 | by

The Lilienthal family

I used to think that we didn’t need to know hundreds of people with Down syndrome; we just needed a few good friends.  People with whom we shared more than just a diagnosis; people with whom our family could relate and enjoy, and with whom we could talk about more than delays and milestones, therapists and specialists, teachers and aides. We found them, and we cherish them.  And you know what?  It turns out I was wrong, we do need the hundreds of people with Down syndrome, too.

Organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society have a mission to create a society where inclusion and acceptance are the norm.  They represent us, and they celebrate us – the hundreds of families (estimated to be more than 400,000 in the U.S. alone) for whom Down syndrome creates a life of unexpected joy.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  March 21, or 3-21, is the day, chosen symbolically to represent the third copy (an extra copy) of the 21st chromosome, the condition by which Down syndrome is created. One in every 691 live births is a baby born with Down syndrome, and it is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition.

My Great Story is the National Down Syndrome Society’s campaign to capture and catalogue the many wonderful ways that people with Down syndrome contribute to society, and to our families. I’m grateful for the stories told on this special day (I especially like this one, told by blogger Kelle Hampton) and for the stories yet to be written.   And I’m grateful for every single person with Down syndrome – those I know, and those who I haven’t yet met – because your great story is part of mine and my family’s.

For more information check out the My Great Story public awareness campaign, and watch the five MGS Celebrity PSAs starring actor John C. McGinley, TV hosts Meredith Vieira and Nancy O’Dell, and actor Chris Burke.

Related article: TV: Where Down Syndrome Is All the Rage

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