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Families succeed in founding Alabama Down Syndrome Day on Oct. 1

Samuel Evers, a second-grader at Columbia Elementary School, sat at Gov. Robert Bentley's desk at the proclamation signing for Alabama Down Syndrome Day on Oct. 1. (CONTRIBUTED)
Samuel Evers, a second-grader at Columbia Elementary School, sat at Gov. Robert Bentley’s desk at the proclamation signing for Alabama Down Syndrome Day on Oct. 1. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison families joined others for state recognition of Alabama Down Syndrome Day on Oct. 1.

Sue Tolle of Vestavia Hills with Down Syndrome Alabama (downsyndromealabama.org) spearheaded the effort. Several families from support groups in Madison, Dothan, Montgomery and Mobile County witnessed Gov. Robert Bentley’s proclamation signing.

“Our local group, Bringing Up Down Syndrome (BUDS), serves Madison, Huntsville and North Alabama,” Jenny Evers said. Jenny and Sam Evers have two sons — Samuel, 8, and Matthew, 5.

Other BUDS families at the signing were Kenneth, Jamie and Kendle Larson; Dallas and Ezra Graydon; Caneilla and Gabriel Patterson; and Tamyra and Ross Yarbrough.

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Samuel Evers loves second grade at Columbia Elementary School. “Samuel needs lots of one-on-one for academics. He participates in physical education, music, computer study, recess and extracurricular events,” Jenny Evers said. Samuel’s teachers are Susan Sanford and Donna Smith.

“Samuel receives speech and physical therapies at school. He’s a very happy, social little boy who handles his challenges and adversity very well,” Jenny said.

Rylie Edwards, 11, is a fifth-grader at Rainbow Elementary School. Rylie has studied dance for seven years in the Johnny Stallings Arts Program at Merrimack Hall and attends Camp Merrimack, her mother Susan Edwards said.

“We’re so very fortunate to have a program like this in our area,” Susan Edwards said. “Rylie enjoys dancing, singing, swimming, playing on her iPad and spending time with family and friends.”

Like Rylie, Samuel studies dance at Merrimack Hall. He participates in Miracle League’s “Lake Monsters” and Special Olympics.

“Samuel has Down Syndrome, but Down Syndrome doesn’t define him,” Jenny said. The Evers’ goal for Samuel is acceptance, inclusion and being “‘pushed’ to be his best. “The school has been so good working with him.”

Parents have contacted Madison educators and district staff members Dr. Maria Kilgore and Jackie Bradley to recognize Alabama Down Syndrome Day. Students will wear awareness colors of yellow and blue.

For more information, visit budsonline.org or ndss.org.

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