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Loving Life, Changing Attitudes: It’s World Down Syndrome Day
March 21, 2013
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"No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much."

That quote is from the man in this photo - John Franklin Stevens, a 30-year-old Special Olympics athlete.

And we thought it was a perfect way to mark the 8th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day.

Recognized by the United Nations, this is a day to increase public awareness and support the rights and well-being of people with Down syndrome.

On the official website, worlddownsyndromeday.org, the organization Down Syndrome International (DSI)has a message encouraging...

"our friends all over the World to choose your own themes, activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities."

For our part, we thought we'd repost a few stories we've done about some amazing people with Down syndrome.

Evan Sneider

Evan is the first actor with Down syndrome to play the lead in a feature film, starring in the acclaimed indie drama 'Girlfriend'.

It was his feature film acting debut, and the film premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

In this clip, Evan talks about the use of the 'R-Word' and its negative impact on people with Down syndrome.



The full interview is right here.

John Franklin Stevens (pictured at the top)

You might remember last October, he wrote an eloquent, courageous, and thoughtful open letter to American commentator Ann Coulter - asking her why she keeps using the "R-word".

As part of his letter, John wrote "Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor."

You can read the full post here.

Seb White

This 4-year-old little guy became a TV sensation in Britain this winter after appearing in a Christmas commercial for for Marks & Spencer.

But his mom said it wasn't "tokenistic" - Seb wasn't singled out, he's just one of the kids. (bottom right)

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"Seb absolutely loved watching himself in the ad. He kept saying, 'Again, again' and wanted to watch it over and over," his mom Caroline said.

"He has no comprehension that he's helping to change attitudes. But to think that's already happening is amazing."

You can check out the entire post here.

Nicholas Popowich

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Last November, Nicholas was featured in a billboard campaign by The Canadian Down Syndrome Society entitled 'See The Ability'.

The tagline reads "He has a girlfriend, a great career, and loves his life. He also has Down syndrome".

Nicholas works full-time at Sasktel, and is part of the Voices At The Table Advocacy Committee, a group made up of adults with Down syndrome.

Their goal is to empower Canadians with Down syndrome and their families. Nicholas' mom says "We often say that Nicholas is a walking opportunity for people to be their best."

The full story is right here.

Tim Harris

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Tim runs a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico called 'Tim's Place' which serves "breakfast, lunch and hugs."

In fact, according to an electronic counter on the wall, Tim has given out more than 32,000 hugs since he opened.

Business is great, profits are up and he's working on plans to expand. A university graduate, Tim is also a Special Olympics athlete and says he's won more medals than Michael Phelps.

"I do not let my disability crush the dreams. People with disabilities, they can do anything they set their minds to. We're special. We are a gift to the world," he says.

The full post is right here.

Ted Kremer

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Photo: The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger

Last summer, Ted got to be official batboy for a day of his favourite baseball team - the Cincinnati Reds.

When Ted was born, doctors told his parents he'd probably never talk or smile, might not walk, and would never have more than a 40 IQ.

But Ted did all that and more, and now at 29, he does clerical work at a local school, rides horses, plays softball, and does ballroom dancing.

As for his day as the Reds' batboy, 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips said: "Teddy came in here and blessed us with his energy and his presence that day: Enjoy life, be yourself, go out and play hard. Give it all you got. That's Teddy. He's a reminder to us all."

The full story is right here.

All of these stories are that much more poignant because of another story.

It's about Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, who died recently after an altercation with security at a movie theatre.

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Photo: Facebook

As The New York Times writes, "On the day he died, he went to a local mall to see the film "Zero Dark Thirty." When it ended, his caregiver went to get the car. Mr. Saylor went back in and sat down for the next showing.

Theater employees told him to buy another ticket or leave. When Mr. Saylor refused, they called mall security, three off-duty county sheriff's deputies who tried to drag him out of the theater. According to the sheriff's office, Mr. Saylor cursed and struggled. He was handcuffed and ended up on the floor. Something happened, and then he died.

Read the full story right here. Plus, here a few other blogs you might want to check out.

From todayhealth.today.com - Savannah Guthrie: What World Down Syndrome Day Means To Me

From Katie Driscoll on chicagoparent.com - Today is World Down Syndrome Day

From Eliana Tardio on babble.com - 21 Reasons to Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

Related stories

The Punk Syndrome: Documentary Follows Finnish Punk Rock Band Made Up Of Four Guys With Learning Disabilities

It's R-Word Awareness Day: Spread The Word To EndThe Word

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