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World Down Syndrome day: Locals celebrate and raise awareness

By ALLISON NORLIAN

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - World Down Syndrome Day was celebrated on Friday night at Danielle's in New Hartford, with over 300 community members celebrating and raising awareness.

The evening was put on by the Brody Savicki Foundation, an organization started by the Savicki's after having a child with Down Syndrome.

Christine Savicki, Brody's mother said when Brody was born, her life turned upside down. She wants other community members to know they are not alone.

"When Brody was born, his diagnosis with Down Syndrome was a shock to us and we realized we needed to do something in the community to raise awareness," Savicki said. "We hope that new parents who are in our situation are more aware of Down Syndrome and are more aware of the capabilities and strengths of individuals with Down Syndrome rather than the stigma."

Savicki and her husband started Brody's Buddy Ride. The ride takes place every third Saturday in August. It's a 63 mile bike ride. The proceeds from the ride are for the foundation and throughout the year are donated to individuals with Down Syndrome for medical costs, education and scholarships.

The money also goes to events like the World Down Syndrome day celebration.

"We started Brody's Buddy Ride to raise awareness and it has just taken off," Savicki said."We raise thousands of dollars each year and are able to do great things like this."

The evening involved food, dancing and entertainment. Carrie Bergeron kicked off the evening with an interpretive dance. She attended the event as an advocate for people with Down Syndrome. She also happens to have it herself.

Bergeron is a motivational speaker for people with Down Syndrome. She graduated from Herkimer College in 2003, received her teachers assistant certificate and works with toddlers with special needs at Upstate Cerebral Palsy. In her spare time, she volunteers at Rome Hospital teaching Tai Chi to the elderly. Bergeron is an inspiration who hopes children with Down Syndrome never feel inadequate and believe they can do anything they set their minds to.

"I hope for them to believe in themselves because they are a human being like anyone else. I know in their own special way they will achieve many things," Bergeron said.

For more information on the Brody Savicki Foundation you can visit their website.

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