Campaign to Open Employers' Eyes to the Power of People with Down Syndrome

Boston Bruins Foundation, MDSC and others join forces to raise awareness about lack of employment opportunities

BOSTON, Sept. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress will be launching its new public awareness campaign, Your Next Star, on Oct. 1, aimed at opening the eyes of employers to the power of people with Down syndrome in the workplace. Two years in the making, Your Next Star came about because of our increasing awareness of the challenges facing adults with Down syndrome looking for meaningful work opportunities in their communities.

Thursday Oct. 1
11 a.m.
Boston Bruins Foundation
TD Garden
West End Room
At the press conference on October 1, the website,, will be officially unveiled, including the centerpiece video: - EMBARGOED UNTIL OCT. 1

The event takes place at the Boston Bruins Foundation on the first day of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the Commonwealth as declared by official proclamation by Governor Charlie Baker.

After the official launch of Your Next Star, 3,500 people will gather on October 11 in Wakefield for our 19th Annual Buddy Walk & Family Festival, the largest gathering of the Down syndrome community in the region and one of the biggest in the nation.

According to research, people with Down syndrome and other disabilities have drastically higher unemployment rates than their non-disabled peers despite typically showing more loyalty and lower turnover, and having similar job performance ratings. "Your Next Star is our attempt to fix that disconnect," said MDSC Executive Director Maureen Gallagher.

"Fortunately, there are many employers who have embraced our vision and have successfully hired people with Down syndrome to work for their companies," she continued. "We look forward to highlighting these success stories and launching our new campaign calling for other employers to diversity their workforces by including people with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities."

"People with Down syndrome have so much to contribute to the workforce and everyone can relate to the need for good employment opportunities," Gallagher said. "We hope no matter who you are, you'll join for this call to action. "

Available for Press Interviews

Many of the stars of the Your Next Star videos, including model employers and their employees with Down syndrome will be on site at the press conference on October 1 at TD Garden.

  • Commissioner Elin Howe, MA Department of Developmental Services (invited)
  • Bob Sweeney – Executive Director  of Boston Bruins Foundation
  • Maureen Gallagher – MDSC Executive Director
  • Jamie Eldridge - State Senator from Acton
  • Leo Vercollone - CEO of Verc Enterprises
  • Gary Sessa - Market Basket Store Manager
  • Dr. Brian Skotko, Clinical Co-Director, MGH Down Syndrome Program
  • Philip Donahue - Market Basket Customer Service Representative
  • John Dunleavy of Winchester - Boston Bruins employee
  • Melissa Reilly of Boxboro - Staff of Sen. Eldridge
  • Nicole Coppens of Duxbury - Verc Enterprises employee

About Your Next Star

People with Down syndrome are ready and able to work, but they are not getting the chance. Employees with Down syndrome and other disabilities typically show more loyalty and lower turnover than their non-disabled peers. And their job performance ratings are the same. But they have drastically higher unemployment rates. Your Next Star was developed to open the eyes of employers in Massachusetts to the power of people with Down syndrome in the workforce, and help them find the qualified candidates they need. Fortunately, there are many employers in Massachusetts who have embraced a vision of an inclusive workplace and have successfully hired people with Down syndrome. Your Next Star will highlight many of these success stories on our campaign website,, and will establish a call to action for others to support our efforts.

About National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the MDSC Buddy Walk

Every October since 1996, the MDSC has hosted its Buddy Walk & Family Festival to celebrate the Down syndrome community and promote acceptance and inclusion. Held annually during National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, our signature walk continues to be the MDSC's largest public awareness and fundraising event. On Sunday, Oct. 11, more than 3,500 people who have pledged their support will join together as they walk around beautiful Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. The day includes pre-walk activities, opening ceremony, a three-mile walk, family festival, and post-walk entertainment.

About the MDSC

For more than 30 years, MDSC has worked tirelessly to provide information, networking opportunities, and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Today, the MDSC offers a broad array of programs to serve people with Down syndrome and their families throughout the state, including: our signature Parents 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 includes 3 Buddy Walks throughout the state; Self-Advocate Programs like Advocates in Motion, our Self-Advocate Advisory Council, and our Allen Crocker Self Advocate Internship, all of which provide opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome while making empowerment a central component. More information at

Collaborating Organizations of Your Next Star Campaign:

  • Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
  • Work Without Limits
  • Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) Transition to Work
  • Best Buddies Jobs 

A photo accompanying this release is available at:


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