Local family raising awareness on Down Syndrome - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local family raising awareness on Down Syndrome

READLYN (KWWL)-- October is probably best recognized as "Breast Cancer Awareness Month."  But did you know it is also "Down Syndrome Awareness Month"?  The genetic disorder is caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome in the body.  And it affects more than 400,000 Americans.  One local family is sharing their story in hopes of educating others about this disorder.

"It was definitely not something we were expecting.  It's just a shock.  You go through the tears, but you realize that there's a whole new opportunity out there waiting," said Andrea Powell.

That's Andrew Powell reflecting on when she learned her now 7-year-old son Ayden has Down Syndrome.  In time, the Powell family has come to realize that Ayden is bright, and he's capable of doing anything he sets his mind to.

"He takes his own time in doing everything.  But for the most part, we've learned that he's just a normal child.  He has learned to ride a bike.  He goes to school.  He's in a regular classroom.  He has friends.  He does everything that everybody else's children do, just he does it at his own pace," Powell said.

And to help showcase just how amazing people with Down Syndrome can really be, the Powells submitted a photo of Ayden for inclusion in a National Down Syndrome Society video.  Ayden was chosen, from a pool of more than 1000, to be one of 225 people represented in this video, which was recently shown in New York City's Times Square.  The Powells just hope the national platform helps people have a better understanding of Down Syndrome, while drawing attention to the need for additional research into the disorder.

"They are doing research to find out what the genes are doing on the 21st chromosome.  It's not necessarily to solve the problem and eliminate Down Syndrome, but to find out what kinds of things they can do to help the symptoms," said Powell.

Back at home, the Powells say the have high expectations for what Ayden can achieve, just as they do for their other son, Andruw.  And they hope that by shedding light on their experience with Down Syndrome, that they'll help eliminate some of the stereotypes that surround the disorder. 

Andrea Powell heads up a local Down Syndrome support group.  If you'd like to learn more about the group and its upcoming fundraisers, call 319-404-0396.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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