Families celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Families from all over Northeast Arkansas gathered together for a very special reason at the Miracle League Park in Jonesboro on Wednesday.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day.

Lissa Tabor is a Paragould resident and mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome.

She said the 21st was picked to represent the day for a very good reason.

"Because you have three chromosomes or your 21st chromosome," Tabor said. "So, always on March the 21st is Down Syndrome Day. It's just wear crazy socks and we're going to have a balloon release. We've always had one in Central Arkansas and we were wanting to bring something closer to home into our area."

Families released balloons and butterflies that evening.

Schunda Murphy was the event organizer and mother of a child with Down Syndrome, as well.

"Our theme is how do we connect with the community," Murphy said. "It's informing the community of our children, being inclusive, being a part of the community. Being productive. And for families in Northeast Arkansas to finally get together and meet one another and to just embrace our children that have Down Syndrome."

Murphy said they wanted to do something uplifting and symbolic of their children.

"Our colors for Down Syndrome are blue and gold," Murphy said. "Those are the colors of the balloons. The release of the balloons is we are letting go and there's no limit to what our kids can do at this point. Butterflies because they are beautiful. And that's another thing that's a representation of Down Syndrome. To go from a tiny little something and metamorphize into something beautiful."

Murphy said they want the public to know how truly special these kids are.

"Our main thing is awareness," Murphy said. "We want people to know that they are existing. There are 6,000 kids a year born with Down Syndrome. . .1 in every 700. And they are living longer. They are doing more in society. There's more educational and medical awareness out there. And we just want everyone to know and to celebrate our loved ones with us."

"I hope people take away," Tabor said. "The awareness of the Down Syndrome children in the world and how they are just like every other child in the world. They do everything just like everyone else, just on their own special time. Sometimes it takes us a little longer to get things done. But if everyone in the world was like these children with Down Syndrome, it would be a whole lot better world to live in."

Murphy said their hope is for people to stop, think and be inclusive.

"Just to be inclusive," Murphy said. "Allow our children to play with your children. Allow them to sit in class with your children. . .jobs! We just want them to be involved and know we're here, we're existing and allow us to be a part of your lives because our children are no different from there's."

The RPM cheerleaders were also present.

The group is a special needs cheerleading squad based in Jonesboro.

Named for their owners, Rebecca and Michael Post, the group includes all age ranges and all special needs.

Murphy said this is their second year to cheer and they'll soon be competing in St. Louis.

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