Sunday, March 8, 2015

ABLE: Positive change and a fighting chance

Just before Christmas of last year, President Barack Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE, allowing people with disabilities to open tax-free accounts where they can save money without fear of losing government benefits.
As soon as the Treasury Department writes eligibility requirements, states will be responsible for establishing and managing the program, expected to begin accepting applications from people by the end of this year.
In Savannah, this means new doors could be opening for the thousands of people who struggle to find work because of a disability.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

LuMind Foundation and Research Down Syndrome Merge to Create Leading Source of Private Funding for Down Syndrome Cognition Research

LuMind Foundation and Research Down Syndrome have combined resources and programs. Together, these organizations contributed nearly $12 million to stimulate cognition research, resulting in the discovery of multiple drug targets and supporting the initiation of four clinical trials.
March 2, 2015 (Marlborough, Mass.) – The LuMind Foundation (formerly the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation – DSRTF) and Research Down Syndrome (RDS), worldwide leaders in advancing Down syndrome cognition research, together announce consolidation of the two organizations. The new foundation will pursue their shared mission more effectively and efficiently, and leverage the tremendous progress each has made to ignite Down syndrome cognition discoveries.
The merged organization will be named LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation. The LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation will be led by a national board of directors, consisting of board members from both organizations. Ryan Hartman will continue from his position as LuMind Foundation Chairman of the Board and Dan Flatley, Research Down Syndrome founder and Chairman, will serve as Vice Chairman.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Obama Task Force Urges Improved Police Interactions

by Michelle Diament from Disability Scoop:
A presidential task force is encouraging police departments across the nation to be more mindful of their dealings with people who have disabilities.
In a report issued this week, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued wide-ranging recommendations aimed at improving relations between the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
President Barack Obama created the task force in response to high profile cases last year in Missouri and New York involving the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.
“We have a great opportunity, coming out of some great conflict and tragedy, to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel, rather than being embattled, feel fully supported,” Obama said of the report. “We need to seize that opportunity.”

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Special Olympics club encourages students to stop the use of the “R-word”

Kayla McKeon, a 27-year-old Syracuse native with Down syndrome, shared her experiences with the “R-word” as the Special Olympics Club’s guest speaker on Wednesday.
by Sara Swann from The Daily Orange:
On Wednesday at 8 a.m., members of the Special Olympics Club at Syracuse University spray-painted orange messages in the snow on the Quad to raise awareness of their “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.
The “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign encourages people to stop the use of the “R-word,” or the word “retard(ed),” because it is “exclusive, offensive and derogatory.” Wednesday marked the annual day of awareness, which takes place the first Wednesday of every March, according to the campaign’s website.
In addition to raising awareness about the campaign, the spray-painted messages also invited the public to attend the Special Olympics Club meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The meeting took place in Kittredge Auditorium, where Kayla McKeon, a 27-year-old Syracuse native with Down syndrome, shared her experiences with the “R-word” as the Special Olympics Club’s guest speaker.
“If you must call me something, please call me Kayla,” McKeon said in her presentation to an audience of about 50 people. “I am not a retard. I am differently abled.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adam Levine Surprises Fan with Down Syndrome

from J Space News:
Adam Levine surprised a fan with Down syndrome by joining him for a meet-and-greet session backstage at a gig this week.
Christopher Warner, a 10 year old from Maryland, came to the attention of the Maroon 5′s management team after a teacher posted a video on YouTube.com showing the youngster singing a compilation of the group’s tracks.
Bosses at local radio station HOT 99.5 contacted the band’s record label, and Warner was offered tickets to Maroon 5′s concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
He was also offered a meet-and-greet session with the musicians, and he became so excited backstage that he had to lie down, prompting Levine and his bandmates to lie on the floor alongside to soothe him.
Warner’s teacher, Avery Stanert says, “He has just been fascinated with Maroon 5 and especially Adam Levine… They (radio station bosses) arranged for backstage passes and tickets. They immediately called the record label and worked it all out.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Adam Levine did when he met this young fan will warm your heart

by Rheana Murray from Today.com:
A 10-year-old boy’s dream came true when he met his idol Monday night: Adam Levine from Maroon 5.
Christopher Warner, who has Down syndrome, hardly ever stops talking about—or singing—the band’s music, one of his teachers at West Friendship Elementary School in Maryland told TODAY.com.
“He has just been fascinated with Maroon 5 and especially Adam Levine,” said Avery Stanert, a special education teacher at the school. “He loves to listen to their music during work breaks. He draws pictures of them. He just absolutely loves them.”

So she created a video of Christopher gushing about Levine and singing the band’s hits, which went viral on YouTube and was picked up by local news stations. It eventually wound up in the hands of radio hosts at Hot 99.5’s The Kane Show, days before the band was set to play nearby in Washington, D.C.
“They arranged for backstage passes and tickets,” Stanert said. “They immediately called the record label and worked it all out.”
Christopher and his mom, Cecilia Warner, along with Stanert and three other teachers, got the VIP treatment Monday night, heading to dinner before the Maroon 5 concert at Verizon Center. “He stayed awake for the whole thing. I was impressed. He was just so excited,” Stanert said.
But when Christopher was finally face-to-face with Levine backstage after the show, he panicked and suddenly became shy, hiding behind his mom and crouching down onto the floor. Levine handled it in the best possible way—by suggesting everyone else get on the floor, too.
Stanert said she and a colleague started making Christopher’s video about two months ago, filming clips here and there, whenever Christopher launched into song or started talking about Levine’s tattoos. Christopher’s brother Michael also appears in the viral clip.
“He’s a typical 10-year-old boy,” Stanert said. “He loves music, he loves drawing, he loves his friends. He’s just a very caring, really amazing boy. And so is his twin brother. His whole family is really great.”
“We’ve been really happy to see how Down syndrome has gotten a lot of attention for this,” she added. “Kids with Down syndrome are just like their peers.”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Special night for a special kid on Pelham basketball court

Pelham High team manager Bryan Doherty, who has Down syndrome, looks to make a play in Friday night’s game vs. Prospect Mountain. SUN/JULIA 
by Mike Bourk from the Lowell Sun: PELHAM -- Like a lot of the other games in the course of an outstanding Pelham High boys basketball season, this one was never in doubt. Ryan Cloutier scored 19 points and the Pythons finished 18-0 in New Hampshire (20-1 overall) with a 70-30 dismantling of Prospect Mountain of Alton on Friday night. It was Senior Night for Pelham and coach Matt Regan added some nice touches. He started the fourth quarter with his five seniors and replaced them as a group at the first whistle for their final regular season time together. The move got the packed house cheering. And the loudest ovation at the "Snake Pit" was reserved for senior Bryan Doherty. Bryan has been the team manager for Pelham High School basketball and football for the last four years.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Good call by Missouri h.s. referee gives fan with Down syndrome a moment in spotlight


by FOX 4 Newsroom:
BARNARD, Mo. — One referee is receiving praise for an unusual  call he made prior to a high school basketball game last week.
Referee Don Lawrence invited a fan in the first row to toss the jump ball at the beginning of the game.
“He noticed Cole was wearing his referee jersey and whistle and he was mimicking the start of the game, things like that, and he had the idea that it would be a good idea if he would toss the jump ball to start the game,” said South Nodaway physical education teacher Aaron Murphy told St. Joe Channel.
The fan was South Nodaway freshman Cole Henggeler. Henggeler has Down syndrome and enjoys watching the officials, which made the referee’s gesture even more special for the 14-year-old.
“Being around Cole for long time now and seeing him at ball games, he has an infatuation with referees, he loves mimicking the calls, the fouls, loves having the whistle and it’s something we’ve done in the PE class with him,” said Murphy.
Henggeler’s mother, Carrie,  had a front-row seat to watch as her son helped get the game started.
“I’m really proud of Cole,” she said told St. Joe Channel. “He does great in academics, he does great in athletics and he’s just all around a great kid.”
The referee said he was happy to help.
“Very big thank you on behalf of the South Nodaway school, the crowd that was there it made their day not only Cole’s. It was a great thing to see. You know very generous of him in that idea,” Murphy said.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

10-year-old disabled boy left on bus for four hours


by Randy Escamilla from Fox 29 San Antonio:

PLEASANTON, Texas -- Pleasanton Independent School District officials scrambled Tuesday to find out how a 10-year old disabled 4th grader with Down's syndrome was left behind on a school bus for four hours in 43-degree weather.

The incident happened Monday. According to the grandmother of Ethan Ramos, 10, a maintenance worker cleaning the bus found the boy.

Ethan suffers from numerous disabilities including Down's syndrome, sleep apnea, heart disease, and asthma.

"He could have died. Simple as that," said Ethan's grandmother Anna Lisa Alvarez.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Inspiration found at Special Olympics Winter Games in Whitefish


Dax VanFossen - MTN News Kalispell KPAX 8 .com:

WHITEFISH - Athletes with disabilities have been able to show their strengths through the power or sports at the State Winter Games in Montana for two decades, but the games inspire more than just the athletes.

You'd be hard pressed to find a better backdrop than Whitefish Mountain Resort for the 20th annual State Winter Games for Special Olympics of Montana. And while the competitions are very important to the athletes, we found out they are extremely important to the family members of the athletes as well.

"It's a game changer, it's added a piece to our life that has a ripple effect that you wouldn't be able to describe. But the experience has been life altering for both our family and Abbie's experience of being in the world," explained Mamie Flinn, whose daughter has Down Syndrome.