A Reason to Run

If you’re looking for a reason to get some exercise, beyond the obvious health benefits, there’s none more impactful than supporting the Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network! On Saturday, April 30th, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Lawrence Joel Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum/Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, the PDSSN will host the 3-2-1 Deacon Dash for Down Syndrome. Come and join them in supporting and celebrating individuals with Down syndrome!

The Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network, or PDSSN, has been providing support, community and connections for Piedmont families and community members for 31 years. In addition to educational resources through their medical outreach program, the PDSSN provides opportunities for fellowship and encouragement, with regular events like Dine Out for Down Syndrome, Exceptional Families (a parent education/support group), Ladies Night Out (LNO), and Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (D.A.D.S.) events. Families who find themselves faced with a seemingly uncertain future can rely on PDSSN to help them navigate often difficult and emotional times with support from other experienced, knowledgeable and caring families.

In addition to supporting families having loved ones with Down Syndrome, PDSSN has opened their doors to include individuals with other intellectual disabilities in many of their events, recognizing that most individuals with intellectual disabilities don’t have access to support organizations within our community. Many of PDSSN’s activities welcome all individuals with an intellectual disability and their families, including their weekly Next Chapter Book Clubs, monthly Exceptional Families educational meetings, and quarterly No Limits II Dances. Also, the PDSSN is continually looking for ways to increase their impact on the community, with initiatives such as the PDSSN Learning Program, a research-based program dedicated to improving the educational outcomes of children with Down Syndrome, being launched this spring. These initiatives are funded with events like the 3-2-1 Deacon Dash, held throughout the year, and include the annual Buddy Walk in October. This family favorite is a huge celebration with food, music, inflatables, carnival games, a talent show and more! All of their events are family-friendly and supported by local individuals, families and businesses.

The 3-2-1 Deacon Dash is a 3.21-mile race (5k + .11) and one-mile fun run. The 3.21 distance represents that individuals with Down Syndrome are uniquely born with three sets of the 21st chromosome, rather than two, like most of the population. McNeil Cronin, who serves on the board of the organization, says, “The PDSSN is thrilled to be hosting our first annual 3-2-1 Deacon Dash for Down Syndrome this spring. Our goals for this event are simple; to raise awareness, increase acceptance and promote inclusion for those with Down Syndrome in our community. Whether you are a serious runner or a young family looking to have some fun, this race is for you.” Executive Director Dana Alley adds, “We hope lots of runners and families will come out to our new fun event! We’re looking forward to bringing the community together to celebrate individuals with Down Syndrome and their families.” The funds raised through this event will make a difference by supporting PDSSN’s many social and educational programs, including community grants and member scholarships. Registered participants will receive a free T-shirt, as well as awards given to the three best times in both the female and male overall category, and to the top female and male runners in 14 different age groups. Join this great organization as they make a long-term positive impact on families in our community. You’ll never find a better reason to run!

For more information, to register as a runner or volunteer, donate to PDSSN, or buy a T-shirt, go to PDSSN.org or contact Quincy Harvey at qlharvey@tahotech.com.