Sunday, October 24, 2010

Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress

This weekend, I had the privilege of wearing the Buddy Walk shirt from the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.  I first would like to that my friend Suzette who sent me my shirt.  Thanks Suzette!!  This is my son Jesse in the photo with me.
This is the second blog in my 50 Shirts from 50 States campaign and already I am realizing some things that I didn’t know before.  I already knew that there were so many great people involved in each organization.  I already knew that the Down syndrome community was a close knit family.  What I didn’t know is that each organization, while based in a city or state, has the ability to touch people and families all around the globe.  While the base or core resources are designed for a particular region, there is information that everyone can find beneficial.  I hope that as you continue to read each week, bookmark the organization that you find particularly interesting to you.  Please share the information with friends, family and colleagues as we continue to drive Down syndrome awareness nationally.  I also have come to realize that although there are in fact 50 states (this fact I did know) there are so many walks and organizations that I expect someday we will go well beyond 50 shirts.  That is a good thing.  I will strive to receive a shirt from all 50 states; I will also blog about all organizations that send me a shirt.  This week I received shirts from Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Indiana.  How exciting and your week is coming soon.
In 1983, a group of parents were sitting in a living room chatting about their children with Down syndrome.  They wanted to know how they could connect and educate families, schools and communities, they did just that.  Today, with over 1600 members, The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) is recognized in Massachusetts and beyond as a preeminent organization for information, networking and advocacy for and about Down syndrome.  While there is no way I can write about all the great things that MDSC are doing, I will mention a few and strongly suggest that you visit their website to read about all their services and programs. 
In addition to the Buddy walk which took place on October 10th, MDSC is holding its 7th annual Educators Forum on November 18th at the College of Holy Cross.  This year’s topic Innovative Teaching Strategies; Building Bridges to Inclusive Education for Students with Down syndrome is designed for educators across Massachusetts  to learn about best practices for educating students with Down syndrome in an inclusive classroom.  This year’s keynote speaker will be Michael F. Giangreco, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Vermont in the Department of education and at the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion. 
On November 21st, MDSC All Stars will face off against the Boston Bruins Alumni team.  This is a benefit hockey game to raise awareness and funds for the MDSC.  If you are in the area, Please come out and support this great event, meet some great Bruin players, get some autographs and watch a charity hockey game.  In addition to the game, there will be a silent auction and raffle with fantastic items to win and bid on such as tickets to Red Sox games, Bruins games and autographed sports memorabilia.  If you cannot attend, you can sponsor a player or just make a donation on line at  This event, with $5 admission and free tickets to kids under 12, this is a great family outing. 
The MDSC Legislative Task Force is a group that has been working hard to pass MDSC’s priority bill H.1780, An Act to Require National Background Checks for Staff Who Work with Individuals served by the Department of Developmental Services.
Also, Advocates in Motion (AIM) seeks to provide fun, inclusive, interactive events each month for young people with Down syndrome.  Now is time to sign up for the 2010 – 2011 AIM.
MDSC is an official charity program of the Boston Marathon.  They are currently seeking both unqualified and qualified runners to participate in the 115th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2011. 
In addition to the programs listed, MDSC has a wide range of programs and services form new parent support, promoting inclusion, educating the public and educators to addressing social policy issues with state and local officials. 
This is an organization that is well run and highly organized under the leadership of Maureen Gallagher, Executive Director, and The Board of Directors along with a dedicated staff and hardworking members.  Please visit MDSC at or (800) 664-MDSC.  Please read about the programs and services and use their services or refer them to those who may benefit from what they have to offer.  Also check out the MDSC update, their summer newsletter and sign up to receive the monthly e-newsletter.
I would also like to introduce you to Brian Skotko, MD, MPP.  I realize that many (most) of you may already know Dr. Brian Skotko.  When my twins, Shane and Wyatt, were born and a local newspaper, Times News, was writing an article on Down syndrome they turned to Dr. Skotko.  Thank you!  Dr Brian Skotko is Chair of the Board of Directors to MDSC and a clinical fellow in genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, specialist in the Down Syndrome Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and brother of a person with Down syndrome.  In addition to MDSC, Dr Skotko also services on the Board of Directors for National Down Syndrome Society, Band of Angels Foundation and Lettercase and also serves on the Professional Advisory Council to the National Down Syndrome Congress.  Please visit Dr. Brian Skotko at to learn more about him, books he has written, workshops, Testimony before congress and TV appearances. 

The next shirt I wear is from the Lehigh Valley Buddy Walk and the Eastern PA Down Syndrome Center.

Please feel free to contact me at

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