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 Article of Interest - Down Syndrome

San Antonio kids are part of a video that's designed to show the world what people with Down syndrome can do
by Karen Adler, San Antonio Express-News, September 28, 2002
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When 8-year-olds Anthony Carnes and Gabriel Hey get home from school, they scarf down a snack, run outside to play baseball and then beg their moms to let them put in a video.
They both have Down syndrome, but they're still typical 8-year-olds, their moms say.

Gabriel, a student at Coker Elementary, is a happy, easygoing kid who loves sports and is learning how to swim and read, said his mom, Maria Hey.

Anthony, a new student at School of Excellence, talks a mile a minute and loves to sing and dance to children's videos.

"Gabriel and Anthony have done some really cool, neat things," said Betty Carnes, Anthony's mom and one of the founders of the Down Syndrome Support Group of San Antonio.

Their latest achievement, however, has their faces being put up among the big-city lights. A photo of the two friends hugging each other will be broadcast on Panasonic's enormous television screen Sunday in New York City's Times Square.

The photo, taken in February at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo's Exceptional Rodeo, was one of about 200 selected to appear in a 40-minute video produced by the National Down Syndrome Society. More than 1,000 photos were submitted, said Jennifer Schell Podoll, society spokeswoman.

The goal of the video is to show through the photos that people with Down syndrome have jobs, go to school and are active in their community, she said. Other San Antonians whose photographs will appear in the video are Rodney Esparza, 23; Michael Moreno, 12; and Briana Troy, 5.

The debut of the video will kick off Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

"I think it's important for people to know that kids with Down syndrome participate in the community," Hey said. "Having the video gets the word out they are capable and able people. They can function in society. They can have jobs. They can and do have a place in the real world."

Both she and Carnes admit they had no idea what someone with Down syndrome looked like before their sons were diagnosed with the genetic disorder.

"Before I had Anthony, I never saw anyone with Down syndrome," Carnes said. "I think it's so cool there's going to be all those faces publicized, just out there."

The Carnes and Hey families won't be able to be in the Big Apple to see the video, but Carnes has dispatched several New York relatives to Times Square on Sunday. They plan to purchase a copy of the video.

This is the eighth year the video has been shown in conjunction with the National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk, a fund-raiser to promote understanding and acceptance of people with Down syndrome.

It must be working, Podoll said. Only 17 communities and a few thousand people participated in the first Buddy Walk in 1995, but this year, almost 200,000 people in 150 cities across the nation have registered, she said.

In San Antonio, the Down Syndrome Support Group will hold its Buddy Walk at 2 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Blossom Athletic Center, 12002 Jones Maltsberger Road. Activities include a 1-mile walk, face-painting and musical entertainment. Individual registration costs $15 and includes a T-shirt. Registration begins at 1 p.m.

For more information about the San Antonio Buddy Walk, visit the Web site or call Terri Blades at (210) 650-4923.

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