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World Down Syndrome Day

After three busy days, talented DOWNrightART participants found it hard to say goodbye at the closing of the 2012 World Down Syndrome Day celebration in New York City. Pictured are Golden Globe Award nominee actor Chris Burke of Point Look Out, Long
After three busy days, talented DOWNrightART participants found it hard to say goodbye at the closing of the 2012 World Down Syndrome Day celebration in New York City. Pictured are Golden Globe Award nominee actor Chris Burke of Point Look Out, Long

Believe in the Possibilities …

World Down Syndrome Day has been celebrated on the 21st day of the third month since 2006 to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome, and has been observed officially by the United Nations since 2012. Alexander’s Angels and the Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation (DSAF), organizations based in Jericho and Hauppauge respectively, are teaming up to present Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day: Believe in the Possibilities….  The thought-provoking and fun Long Island celebration will take place on Saturday, March 22 at Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center in Garden City.  Proceeds from the event will benefit Down syndrome research.  

“Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still so much more we can do,” said Vanessa dos Santos, president of the Teddington, England-based Down Syndrome International, promoter of the annual World Down Syndrome Day.  The overall goal, said dos Santos, is to “create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome” every year on March 21. To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day, visit www.worlddownsyndromeday.org.

 The Long Island event will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with the symposium Why is Down Syndrome Research Important? Leading experts in the field will provide answers to the question in the Concert Hall located on the Main Floor of Adelphi’s Performing Arts Center. The 90-minute symposium will be led by Dr. Michael Harpold, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation who will address the exciting progress to cognition improvement, including memory, learning and speech; Dr. Xiao-Fei Kong, PhD, of the Rockefeller University Sponsored Research and Program Development whose presentation includes the difference of the immune system in Down syndrome within the framework of how the human immune system works; and Dr. Patricia White, MD, director on the board of the Research Down Syndrome Foundation who will emphasize the need for support for Down syndrome research.

While the symposium is free of charge, advance registration that includes tickets for all of the event’s activities is required and available online at www.alexandersangels.org/id104.html

A reception with light fare at $20 per person will immediately follow and provide an opportunity to continue discussing the issues raised at the symposium. It will take place on the second floor Atrium from 6:15 to 7 p.m. 

The event will conclude with a special benefit dance performance Let the Angels In. At 7:30 p.m., over a dozen dancers under Massapequa native director/producer/choreographer Juliet Dolan, owner of NuBella Productions, will take the stage of Adelphi’s Dance Theater for an inspirational and entertaining performance to raise funds and awareness for Down syndrome research. A repeat performance will be held on Sunday, March 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. The cost is $25.

Having a sister with Down syndrome makes this a cause very dear to Dolan’s heart and Alexander’s Angels has benefitted from her fundraising dance efforts. Last June, she presented her first let the Angel’s In benefit dance production at the Triskelion Arts’ Aldous Theater in Brooklyn and each of the three performances brought the audience members to their feet all while raising funds and awareness for this worthy cause. Down syndrome isn’t the only causes the recent graduate of Queen’s College embraces.  Over the past few years, Dolan has combined her passion for dance and helping others to accomplish successful fundraisers with both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and The Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network benefitting from her dedication to direct and choreograph benefit dance performances.

“NuBella is a philanthropic production company born from the shared desire of inspired dancers to spread awareness for charitable causes,” said Dolan, who is proud to be premiering NuBella in support of World Down Syndrome Day. “Our mission is to highlight the beauty and uniqueness of all ages, shapes and abilities through dance. We hope to continue building our legacy for empowering others through dance.”  

According to Esther Gomez-Nieto, president of the Jericho-based Alexander’s Angels, the goal of the event is to raise awareness of the amazing progress Down syndrome research is achieving and its potential to help not only the Down syndrome community but also the community-at-large. “Since 2007, Alexander's Angels has shared donations with other Down syndrome organizations with approximately 35 percent going to research,” Gomez-Nieto said, adding,  “No doubt the field of research as it relates to Down syndrome unites all of us who share this common cause. We invite other organizations to join us in the celebration of this significant date.”

The Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation (DSAF), according to its President Michael Hoffman, strives each day to raise awareness and acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome, focusing on each person’s abilities rather than their disabilities. “As a society we need to accept individuals with Down syndrome in school, in the community and in the work place. We need to rid ourselves of the preconceived notion that individuals with Down syndrome are ‘not capable learners’ and raise the bar so that they can be granted the same opportunities in life as their typical peers,” Hoffman said, noting that “DSAF is excited to collaborate with Alexander’s Angels to celebrate our children on this very special day!”

The mission of Alexander’s Angels, Inc. (www.AlexandersAngels.org) is to further awareness of the contributions and needs of individuals with Down syndrome and to raise funds for advocacy, service and research organizations. The Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation (www.dsafonline.org) is dedicated to ensuring that individuals with Down syndrome have equal access to schools, leisure activities, employment and housing by helping them become respected as valued members of society with their own level of independence, self-determination, and sense of belonging within all aspects of their community.

While both organizations have different missions, the field of research as it relates to Down syndrome unites all who share this common cause. Therefore, it seemed appropriate the two non-profits join together to ensure an appropriate celebration and donate the funds to an area that benefits the greater number of individuals.

For more information, contact Esther Gomez-Nieto, President, Alexander’s Angels, (516) 361-7263 or Alexandersangels@gmail.com or Michael Hoffman, President, Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation, at (516) 983-7008 or DSAF03@gmail.com. 

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