Amid Big News, Thousands Gather in Massachusetts to Celebrate People With Down Syndrome

Buddy Walk to Feature 'Signing Time' Star Rachel Coleman

WAKEFIELD, Mass., Oct. 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Amid news that Down syndrome was 'silenced' in a laboratory experiment here in Massachusetts, thousands will gather on beautiful Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield on Sunday, Oct. 13 to celebrate people with Down syndrome.

The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress' 17th Annual Buddy Walk & Family festival is expected to bring together 4,000 people, including individuals with Down syndrome, family members and friends. The event aims to raise both awareness about Down syndrome and critical funds to support our programs and advocacy work.

Rachel Coleman, founder and star of the "Signing Time!" television show is headlining the event.

Additional Highlights Include:
Ayla Brown, Country star and American Idol semi-finalist
Yeager, world record holding extreme vertical jumping dog, from Go Team 21
Dance performance by the Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance Program
Mr. Vic, Popular Kid's Music Performer
Face Painting, Balloon Artists, and Arts & Crafts
Demonstration by Adaptive Self Defense Class
The public can register at

This event has been dubbed the "Walk for Real Lives." It marks the culmination of a "Real Lives" themed year, which is based on the "Real Lives Bill" that is currently filed in the Massachusetts Legislature.

"From our annual Real Lives conference in March to our Running for Real Lives marathon and road race teams to our upcoming walk for Real Lives, the MDSC has woven this theme into all aspects of what we do," said MDSC Executive Director Maureen Gallagher. "No longer do people with Down syndrome want to be told where to live, what type of job to hold, or who will be part of their lives. Like everyone, they want Real choices based on their interests, their personal goals, and their vision of their future."

The event is sponsored by Verizon, ITG Canada, Fox25, EchoStor Technologies, Nestle and the Patrick McLaughlin Memorial Fund, among others.

Families will be attending from throughout the state. Contact us to be put in touch with a family in your coverage area!

Funds from the Buddy Walk & Family Festival allow the MDSC to provide a wide range of support to those directly affected by Down syndrome and advocate for Down syndrome issues on the local and national level. We support new and expectant families, educate health care professionals about Down syndrome and how to deliver a diagnosis, provide social and leadership development for teens and young adults with Down syndrome, equip educators with best practices and resources, and create and influence legislation affecting people with Down syndrome.

A number of scientific advancements in recent years have changed the landscape for the Down syndrome community. Most recently, our community this summer was shaken when a groundbreaking study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School demonstrated an ability to 'silence' the expression of the 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome in a laboratory.

For our members, these advancements come imbued sometimes with hope, sometimes with anxiety, and often with both. At the MDSC, we have the history, expertise, relationships and foresight to make sense of this constantly changing landscape for our members and the public.

More About Down Syndrome

Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person's cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. It is the most common chromosomal condition - one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to more than 60 today. People with Down syndrome attend school, work; participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways. There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

More About the MDSC

As we have over the past nearly three decades, the MDSC continues to ensure that all individuals in Massachusetts with Down syndrome are valued, included, and given every opportunity to pursue fulfilling lives. In the early years, parents met in a living room to share information about their children, provide support for each other and strategize how to educate their families, schools and communities. More than 28 years later, the MDSC has over 3,000 members, an energetic Board of Directors, a dynamic management team, and a vision to ensure that every person with Down syndrome has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. Today, the MDSC is on the cutting edge of Down syndrome advocacy at a time when an innovative, forward-thinking vision is needed.

The MDSC offers a broad array of programs to serve people with Down syndrome and their families throughout the state, including: our signature Parent's First Call Program, a volunteer, state-wide group of trained parent mentors available 24/7 that is a national model; two major annual conferences that draw national and international experts in their fields; a Buddy Walk® Program that gives individuals, schools, community groups, and local businesses an opportunity to get involved in fundraising campaigns and events year-round; a Teacher Partnership Network that matches educators with experience teaching students with Down syndrome with teachers who have limited or no experience; Self-Advocate Programs like Advocates in Motion and our Self-Advocate Advisory Council, which provide opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome while making empowerment a central component.

Photos accompanying this release are available at:

Buddy Walk & Family Festival 2013 Rachel Coleman

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