Eastern Iowa Families Strive to Increase Awareness and Include Down Syndrome
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Two eastern Iowa families are spreading a message of inclusion after having children with Down syndrome. They say they hope to change the stigma often associated with the diagnosis.
Cal Rivera, 2, of Iowa City, is full of love. His mother says he has never met a stranger. Cal’s family discovered that he had Down syndrome when he was born.
“It was considered a serious diagnosis, something to mourn over. And after spending time with Cal, we felt the opposite was true and that having a Down syndrome diagnosis was one of the best things that ever happened. happened to our family,” said Katie Rivera, Cal’s mother.
Cal’s friend, Anna Kate Friedman of Belle Plaine, will be 2 years old next month. She also has Down syndrome. His family discovered him 14 weeks into the pregnancy.
“She lights up the room she’s in, and she’s funny, and she’s sassy,” said Michelle Friedman, Anna Kate’s mother.
The families met on social media and bonded through Cal and Anna Kate, both the youngest of three siblings. They will walk together on Sunday in the Hawkeye Area Down Syndrome “Step up for Down Syndrome” walk in Cedar Rapids.
People wishing to participate in the Sunday HADSA march can register online.
The event raises funds and awareness of the group that actively supports families they consider blessed with Down Syndrome. Friedman sits on the group’s board of directors.
“Just to spread inclusion and I want my daughter to live life like no other child would,” Friedman said.
Rivera is also making the case for a new narrative. She celebrates Down syndrome through clothing and her company Cal Pal and Co. It features clothing with sayings like “Almond Eyes and Chunky Thighs”, “Forget Average Be Legendary”, and the best-selling, “save the homies “.
Rivera’s long-term plan for his business is to employ several people with special needs. She has already hired her first worker with Down syndrome.
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