Local groups celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

By Lynn R. Parks

March 21 is recognized globally as World Down Syndrome Day. The date (3/21) was chosen in recognition of the fact that the genetic disorder is caused by the existence of a third chromosome 21.

Down Syndrome International, a worldwide organization that works to improve the lives of people with Down Syndrome, heads up the day. The group encourages people to wear mismatched socks on March 21, to promote awareness of the disorder.

In Delaware, events were organized by the Down syndrome Association of Delaware. The organization sold pairs of socks and encouraged people throughout the state to participate in the day. Its Facebook page is filled with photographs taken on March 21, of people wearing mismatched socks. Among them is Gov. John Carney, sporting one orange and black sock and one with pink and white stripes, and the girls on the hockey team at Seaford Middle School.

Employees at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and their families also joined in the action.

Nearly 40 people gathered in the hospital lobby last Tuesday to show off their mismatched, multi-colored socks. A reception followed, hosted by Nanticoke assistant vice president of support services Jim Watson and his family. Watsons 18-year-old son, Connor, has Down syndrome.

This is all to bring awareness to people with Down syndrome, said Watson, who was wearing two pairs of multi-colored socks. We are really trying to let everybody know that we are all in this together, but at the same time everybody has differences.

The day is also a way to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware. The hospitals gift shop sold mismatched pairs of socks, generating about $300 for the association.

Watson said that he intends to organize the event at Nanticoke again on March 21, 2018. Next time, though, he will get more socks for the gift shop to sell. This year, it sold all 100 pairs that he ordered.

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