Local Students Experience Life with Down Syndrome
Gould School in North Caldwell marks World Down Syndrome Day with walk-a-thon and other activities. Students raise $5K for Special Olympics New Jersey.
Gould School sixth grader Sadye Boshak organized a walk-a-thon at her school which raised more than $5,400 for the Special Olympics New Jersey, an event in which her friend and classmate Grace McDonald has won three gold medals.
The walk took place at the North Caldwell school on Thursday, March 21, World Down Syndrome Day.
Sadye set out to raise awareness among her peers about what it's like for Grace, and other children with Down Syndrome, to do things such as write, speak and learn. Students participated in various activities in the classroom, including talking with marshmallows in their mouths (see video) and writing with their opposite hand while wearing oven mitts.
"We should always remember that Down Syndrome is not something to be afraid of," Sadye said in her remarks before the walk. "We are all more alike than different."
The fourth, fifth and sixth grade students learned important facts about Down Syndrome, including that it is a condition involving the 21st chromosome and that people with Down Syndrome do not grow as fast or learn as quickly, but have otherwise normal lives.
Grace's mother, Joy McDonald, smiled as she watched her daughter's peers participate in the walk-a-thon Thursday.
"It's one of those things you see in a movie and you are inspired by it," said McDonald. "But, I said to [Principal] Checchetto, it's happening here."
Don Slaght, President of the Board of Directors for the Special Olympics New Jersey, was on hand Thursday to accept the donation from Gould School.
Special Olympics New Jersey raises about $7 million a year to support 22,000 athletes in the state, Slaght said.
"I think this is the finest grassroots fund-raising event put on by kids in the history of the Special Olympics," he said.
New Jersey is gearing up to host the National Special Olympics USA games in June 2014.