JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Acosta Bridge will be lit in blue and yellow all this week ahead of Saturday’s annual Buddy Walk to raise awareness about Down syndrome.
One local family is among the hundreds helped by the efforts of Down Syndrome Association every year. The Abadin’s learned of Amelia’s Down syndrome diagnosis one month after she was born.
“She has mosaic Down syndrome, which is very rare,” mother Annette Abadin said. “It’s about 1% of the population of people with down syndrome have mosaic. Fifty percent of her cells were you know the typical 46 chromosomes and the other half were 47. She had an additional chromosome on the 20 verse... so she basically is a mix between a typical person’s DNA and someone with down syndrome.”
Now, 3½ years later, Amelia is continuing to thrive.
“Super social, she loves to dance. She’s in ballet classes. Is very musically motivated, super in Coco melon, Frozen is her favorite. So, I think you know we’re having a very typical experience raising her, she’s into all the same things that like kids her age and her friends are into,” Abadin said.
The Abadins credit much of Amelia’s success to the unwavering support of the Down Syndrome Association.
“What the DSAJ has done for us so far is they’ve helped us cover a lot of the cost of Amelia’s therapies,” Abadin said. “Also, we just got in contact with this massive community in Jacksonville of families who are loving, supportive and positive.”
“From the very beginning when they get that diagnosis, knowing they can pick up the phone and we’re going to be there for them and give them support -- not just the immediate need, but throughout their child’s entire life all the way into adulthood,” said Debbie Revels, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. “And we’ve heard it time and time again that the resources we offer has changed their minds of the diagnosis. It gives them peace, it gives them comfort, and it gives them that positive feeling that they got this and they’re going to have the support they need on this journey
The 19th Annual Buddy Walk is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Jacksonville Beach.
It raises awareness and education about Down syndrome while also helping raise money for families navigating these realities.
“To not have any preconceived notions, I know that in the past there’s been a lot of negativity and a lot of sadness tied to this diagnosis. Which you know we had at first just because we didn’t know any better, right? But now being fully engulfed in this community, there’s so much hope and so much potential that everyone is unlocking now that they’re giving people with down syndrome the opportunity and the right tools to succeed in life. I just want the community at large to understand that it’s not something to look down on, it’s not going to be a sad life or a sad future. We’re really excited and we know that Amelia’s future will be bright just like all of her friends with down syndrome,” said Abadin.
“Love you baby, enjoy your baby first. When it’s time for you to be connected you will know that. We’re going to be sitting here waiting for you,” said Revels.
More than 2,000 people have signed up for the Buddy Walk and the DSAJ says there will be carnival rides, face painting and more.
Click here for more information on this year’s Buddy Walk or to find Down syndrome resources in our area.