Dad participating in Buddy Walk: "There's no 'down' in Down Syndrome"

Dad participating in Buddy Walk: "There's no 'down' in Down Syndrome"

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The Columbia Buddy Walk is now in its 17th year, and one Pelion family will be walking for the third year in a row.

Parents Kevin and Jane Windham say the walk is one of the many things that reminds them just how amazing their daughter Emily is, and they add the same holds true for other children with Down Syndrome.

"If I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times- the only reason they named it Down Syndrome was because after the man that founded the research on it," said Kevin Windham, Emily's dad. "There's nothing down about Down Syndrome- everything is up."

That was evident in the short time we spent with 2-year-old Emily, who loves playing music on her parent's smartphone so she can dance.

"She loves to dance, and she just started walking about four months ago and now she is everywhere," said Emily's mom, Jane.

It's a welcome sight for the Windhams in the playroom of Family Connection of South Carolina. They say when Emily was born in March of 2015, the news they got came as a shock.

"She was born at 37 weeks, and we had no idea before she was born that she had Down Syndrome," said Jane.

They were also told Emily likely had a congenital heart defect, and she would need surgery at just 5 months-old.

"That was terrifying," said Jane. "My first question was, "Is this something that's going to shorten her life?"

But doctors assured the Windhams that it wouldn't. Five days after her surgery they were able to go home. Now it's how they've watched their little girl grow that's at the heart of their story.

"Her quality of life is great," said Jane. "She doesn't have any major health issues, she's healthy, she's happy-- she goes to school twice a week and plays with her friends."

And the Windhams want others to know that that's the case for many children like Emily with Down Syndrome. While the genetic chromosome disorder can cause a wide range of developmental and intellectual delays, they emphasize children with

Down Syndrome aren't limited, they are limitless.

"I guess it's our job is to educate everyone and let them know that there's nothing bad or nothing wrong with kids with Down Syndrome," said Kevin. "Until you have a child with Down Syndrome you would never realize one the joys that they bring to everyone in your family. She's a Godsend no doubt."

A gift they look forward to celebrating each year with other families at the Family Connection of SC's Buddy Walk on Sunday at Saluda Shoals Park.

"This is their one day a year, and it is such a great thing and it goes for a great cause and would like for everyone to come out and support us," added Kevin.

The Windhams say they have been beyond grateful for the resources and support that Family Connection of SC has provided for their family and so many others. Proceeds from the walk will help support family connection and the National Down Syndrome Society.

Emily will be one of the many children highlighted by teams that sign up to support the walk.

You can register online now by clicking here or you can on site Sunday starting at 1p.m. Sunday.

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