December 15, 2017
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Nominations Open for Board of Directors and Annual Awards

MDSC Board of Directors 
At our 34th Annual Conference in Worcester, MA on March 24th, 2018, MDSC members will have an opportunity to vote on new persons to the MDSC Board of Directors. At this time, we are seeking nominations for committed individuals who would be willing to serve a 3-year term. The Board's role is to provide overall governance for the organization and to focus on development of policies, fundraising, financial oversight, and strategic planning.  While all nominations are welcomed, the MDSC is particularly looking for nominees who meet one or more of these criteria:
  • Public relations, communications, or marketing background with leadership experience in the corporate sector.
  • Expertise in Government Affairs
  • Corporate accounting or finance expertise
  • Executive leadership and business skills
  • Person who has built contacts in the community and can bring those connections to the board, whether financial or other
Please see complete information and nomination form  here

MDSC Annual Awards 
Each year, during the luncheon portion of our Annual Conference, the MDSC honors individuals or organizations who have celebrated the rich accomplishments of people with Down syndrome. We invite members of our community or the general public to nominate those people whom you believe are most deserving of the following awards:  
  • Media Award
  • Outstanding Educator Award
  • Allen C. Crocker Award of Excellence
  • Exemplary Employer Award
Please see complete information and nomination forms here
Upcoming Events 

"Special Health Care Needs" Support Group -- Dec. 16
The MDSC is proud to partner with the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children's Hospital for our "Families of Children with Down syndrome and Special Health Care Needs" Support Group. The group, which is open to the public, gathers Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10am - Noon at Boston Children Hospital's WALTHAM location at 9 Hope Avenue, Waltham - Conference Room A (FREE parking). Children are welcome - volunteers are available for children's recreation and support. Refreshments will be served (please let us know with RSVP if you need gluten free or other dietary accommodations). RSVP to Jeanne Doherty at 978-761-3950 or with the names of each person who will be attending and whether or not you are bringing your child (limited child care available). See a flyer with complete information here

Mental Health Support Group - Jan. 11
The MDSC is offering a quarterly support group for family members who have a loved one with Down syndrome and a mental health diagnosis. Meetings will be facilitated by Mary-Frances Garber, a licensed genetic counselor providing supportive genetic counseling in her private practice, Listening, Reflecting, Healing in Needham. She has been a consultant with the MDSC for the past 5 years providing insight and support to many families.

If your teen or adult loved one with Down syndrome also has a mental health diagnosis such as Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder, join our  Mental Health Support Group on January 11,  7pm - 8:30pm,  MDSC Office, Burlington.  RSVP to Colleen at

Please note that individualized psychiatric treatment will not be provided at this meeting. This meeting is meant to serve as a venue for families with loved ones with Down syndrome and mental health concerns so that they may obtain mutual support with professional supervision.
Leia Brown Wraps Up Productive Internship 
This week, we celebrated Leia Brown on her last day as the Allen Crocker Self-Advocate Intern!  During her internship, she worked closely with the MDSC management team in preparing for the organization's busy event season, including preparations for our Buddy Walk & Harvest Fair, Buddy Walk & Family Festival, Educators Forum, and Bruins Alumni Hockey Game. Thank you, Leia, for all of your hard work!

The MDSC's Allen Crocker Self Advocate Internship gives a self-advocate an opportunity to work in our Burlington office on a project of their choosing for a period of 3 to 5 months. Crocker Interns will gain valuable work experience, develop leadership skills, and earn money. And in doing so, they will advance the shared mission of the MDSC and Dr. Crocker, promoting the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. More information here
MDSC/MFOFC Full Life Ahead Transition Series

                        The MDSC, in partnership with Mass Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC), is pleased to offer 
A Full Life Ahead : workshops for parents and guardians on  transition, employment, housing, relationships, and other topics that will lead to interdependent, full lives in the community. 
  • February 14, 2018
  • March 14, 2018
  • April 11, 2018
  • May 9, 2018
Mark your calendars  and RSVP to O. Sophia Johansson at 

Join us for these Wednesday evening programs in Lower Level conference room of the MDSC office building in Burlington, MA to learn about transition about transition, employment, housing, relationships, and other topics that will lead to interdependent, full lives in the community. 
DSAC Invites All Families to Join Them
Down Syndrome-Autism Connection

The DSAC invites all families affected by Down syndrome and autism, including families who recently got an autism diagnosis, to join them. DSAC has a variety of supports, including the group's monthly family support "chats", which are held the 2nd Monday of every month from 8:30 - 10pm. To be added to the invitation list, please send your email address to

From our sponsor
Tax Advantaged Savings You Can Use for Your Disability Expenses

With the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, saving and investing for disability expenses including housing, healthcare, and transportation, has been made easier. Americans with disabilities now have the opportunity to save and invest in a tax-advantaged account for short and long term expenses. An ABLE account is a smart way to save that supplements, rather than replaces, your Medicaid and SSI benefits. Individuals can contribute up to $14,000 annually for housing, healthcare, and any other qualified expenses, short and long-term - like first and last month's rent. Find out how an ABLE account could make saving simple at

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917 809621.1.0. The  Attainable Savings Plan is offered by the  Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority and managed by Fidelity Investments. Qualified  ABLE Programs offered by other states may provide state tax benefits to their residents or taxpayers that are not available through the Attainable Savings Plan. If  you are not a resident of Massachusetts,  you should consider whether your home state offers its residents or taxpayers state tax advantages or benefits  for investing in your home state's qualified  ABLE program before making an investment in the  Attainable Savings Plan. Units of the portfolios are municipal fund securities and are subject to market fluctuation and volatility.  You may have a gain or loss when  you sell your units.Please carefully consider the  Attainable Savings Plan's investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing.  For this and other information, contact Fidelity  for a free Disclosure Document or view one online. Read it carefully before  you invest or send money.
Cummings Properties Donates $1K to MDSC
Allen Crocker Self Advocate Intern Leia Brown and Membership Services Coordinator Kristen Tenglin were delighted to accept on behalf of the MDSC a  $1,000 Employee Directed Giving donation from Cummings Properties. 

Special thanks to Brian Pedreschi for nominating us!
Congresswoman Clark, Senator Warren Take Steps to Aide Down Syndrome Research

House Appropriation Subcommittee Hearing
Congresswoman Katherine Clark and her House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services & Education held its first-ever hearing on current and future Down syndrome research funding priorities!

Among the testimonies, which you can see in it's entirety here, was an incredibly powerful speech by self advocate Frank Stephens that went viral after the hearing. 

Executive Director Maureen Gallagher, and MDSC members Kate Bartlett and Jan Tobin were proud to represent our community on Capitol Hill, where where many advocates from across the country came together to show their support.

Special thanks for our friends at Global Down Syndrome Foundation, who spearheaded the hearing, and to all the committee members who seriously considered all the testimony presented. 

Sen. Warren Introduces Bill to Fund Biomedical Research 
Sen. Warren meeting with MDSC advocates in April 2017

Thank you to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for introducing legislation in Congress that will increase funding for biomedical research. 

The legislation would increase funding for targeted biomedical research initiatives through a new, reliable funding stream supporting the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The purchasing power of the NIH has been cut by Congress for more than a decade. This funding boost would help restore the NIH budget roughly to its 2006 levels, adjusted for biomedical inflation.

"Families across this country are waiting for medical breakthroughs, and researchers are waiting for money to fund their work so they can make those breakthroughs," said Senator Warren. "It's time for us to step up and put more money into NIH."

Among the promising studies that need funding is Down syndrome-related research and we are very appreciative of Senator Warren's leadership in this important area.
MDSC Boston Marathon Team Set; Gearing Up to Run for Loved Ones with Down Syndrome

The MDSC is proud to be an official charity of the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program to participate in the Boston Marathon for the 7th consecutive year! For the 2018 Boston Marathon, we are excited to announce an amazing team of runners, who are already hitting the pavement to train for big race on April 16. 

Matthew and Derrah Gousie - parents to 2-year-old Cecilia. "For the past two years, Cecelia has lit up our world with smiles, laughs, milestones, little victories, and a determined effort to do things that don't come easy to her.  As her parents, it is simply not possible to be anything other than immensely proud of her." 

Chad Grieves - Running for his brother Ricky, who passed away in 2007. "I was truly blessed to grow up with my brother Ricky, who was born with Down Syndrome.  Ricky was a 'light' and his life exemplified humility, joy, and love for everyone he came in contact with." 

Matthew Preston - Running for his daughter Molly. "Everyday I watch Molly's boundless energy and dogged determination with everything she does and I decided I needed to do something to honor how hard she works. I ran the marathon for the MDSC in its inaugural year as a marathon charity shortly after my twins were born in September of 2008 and now seems like the perfect time to jump back in." 

Stephanie Bishop - Running for her daughter Nora. "I didn't think that I was going to run again this year.  I thought about the whole experience last year - the training was long.  It was hard.  It hurt.  It was stressful to fundraise and worry about not raising enough money.  Then I thought about Nora and the surgeries she's been through, the daily activities that are harder for her (learning to speak, fine motor, gross motor, reaching developmental milestones, etc), and how her life will be more challenging than those of her typically developing peers.  So, I run because Nora is my inspiration!" 

Michael Plumer - Running for his 4-year-old Sean, who recently successfully transitioned from early intervention to pre-school! "Running the Boston Marathon has been a bucket list item for me for some time. To be able to run Boston, raise awareness [about Down syndrome], and funds for MDSC is the best of both worlds. This is a chance for me to do something I love doing while helping Sean, and all others with Down Syndrome."

Anastacia Whitman - Co-owner of World of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in North Portland, ME, who has many children with Down syndrome as patients. "I went to dental school and worked in Boston for many years.  I have always wanted to run this prestigious race and am thrilled to be doing it on behalf of such a great organization that helps to spread awareness, acceptance, and research into this beautiful community." 

Read more about each of their incredible stories and support their efforts to make a difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome here
MDSC Down Syndrome Conferences Past and Future

Educator's Forum 

On November 14, more than 300+ teachers, paraprofessionals, school administrators, other educators and parents gathered at Holy Cross College for our 
13th Annual Educators Forum. 

The theme for the conference,  Best Practices in Inclusive Education - Preparing ALL Students for a Fulfilling Future, 
 was exemplified by Self Advocate Keynote speakers Dan Rej and Dan Gill. Both Dans attend the POST Academy (Purposeful Opportunities for Successful Transition) at Wakefield High School, and spoke about how school inclusion has worked for them and prepared them for the upcoming transition to life as an adult.

Special thanks as well to Keynote speaker 
David Koppenhaver,  Russell Johnson, and Maureen Blazejewski, and all the educators and parents who, by their attendance, d emonstrated their commitment to learning best practices for teaching our loved ones with Down syndrome and other disabilities, which will  will have positive ripple effects in the classroom and beyond for countless students. 

Annual Conference

Save the Date for the MDSC's 34th Annual Conference on March 24, 2018 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Each spring, hundreds of people with Down syndrome, their family members, health care professionals and educators from across New England attend our Annual Conference. 

Participants gather to hear the latest research findings and important information from national and local experts on a range of topics related to Down syndrome. They also share stories, celebrate victories, advocate for acceptance and inclusion, and reunite with other MDSC families. 

Our conference features general sessions as well as customized tracks for Self-Advocates, Brothers and Sisters and Educators. 

It also includes
  • Awards Luncheon/Self Advocate Extravaganza
  • MDSC Annual Meeting
  • Diversity Breakfast
Mark your calendar now for March 24, 2018. Registration opening in January. More information here
Self Advocate Advisory Council 

What hasn't the  MDSC Self Advocate Advisory Council (SAAC) done the past three months? At their October quarterly social at Gleeout (photo above), they played bubble soccer, air hockey, and relay races. At the Annual Bruins Alumni Charity Hockey Game, they performed a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and earlier the month, they joined forces with Bentley University's Best Buddies program to hold their annual Karaoke Night. 

And looking forward they have lots more in store in 2018, including Zumba, Salsa Dancing, a Field Day and more, all for  adults with Down syndrome, ages 20 and up, and family & friends. Check out the full   schedule of events for the year.   

A completed registration form is required to participate in SAAC events.
You can access the form here or by contacting Colleen Endres, MDSC Teen & Adult Services Director, at or 781-221-0024 x207. We hope to seen you soon! 

Save the Date -- 
Saturday, April 28, 2018
MDSC's 2nd conference for adults and family members featuring keynote speaker Dr. Dennis McGuire 
P arents First Call 

As always, it's been a busy Fall/Winter for the MDSC's Parents First Call Program, with gatherings that meet the needs of all our members. We hosted our first ever Single Mom's Social and partnered with Boston Children's Hospital's Down Syndrome Program to co-host a "Tiny Signs" sign language workshop:

New Family Social

Our New Family Social earlier this month was another roaring success! Thanks to Sarah Cullen, Katy Newman, and Kerry Betsold Neenan for hosting a fun holiday get-together filled with old friends and new (just 4 weeks old!), plus some wintery crafts, family photos, and more. Big thanks to photographer and MDSC dad Eddie Vargas for coming out to take pictures for us again! 

Join us at our next New Family Social on Jan. 6. as always, 10 a.m. to Noon at the MDSC office building at 20 Burlington Mall Road, Burlington, MA. Our bi-monthly Socials are for children 3 and under and their families. Email Family Support Director Sarah Cullen at to RSVP or with questions.

Cultural Diversity Potluck
The MDSC, along with Roxanne Hoke-Chandler at the Federation for Children with Special Needs co-hosted our annual Cultural Diversity Potluck dinner last year, with great company and delicious food with origins around the globe. 

Throughout the year, the MDSC hosts three diversity events - the potluck, a summer picnic, and spring breakfast (prior to our annual statewide conference). These events are intended to encourage our veteran families of diverse backgrounds to remain connected, welcome new families into our community and allow everyone from all backgrounds to get to know each other better. More about our programming for families of diversity here
Advocates in Motion  

Our signature Advocates in Motion (AIM) Program continues to explore  their theme for the year, Together we CAN, which is getting them out in to the community, working as a team, and learning about the many ways to contribute and make the world a better place!

They are also having FUN, which was the primary objective of their Halloween Dance in October.  For a full schedule, including AIM Hangouts and Socials, go   here for a flyer with complete information. 

The MDSC's AIM: Teen and Young Adult Program provides fun, inclusive, interactive events each month during the school year for people with Down syndrome aged 13-22. AIM participants develop leadership and self-advocacy skills, form meaningful relationships with peers, and build their self-confidence in an encouraging environment. AIM also provides community service opportunities and encourages social relationships between youth with and without Down syndrome.
MDSC Partners with Bruins Alumni on Charity Game and 50/50 Raffle Night at TD Garden

Bruins Alum vs. MDSC All Stars Charity Hockey Game

For the 13th year, the Boston Bruins Alumni took on the MDSC All Star team on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at the New England Sports Center. In addition to the an action packed game (which the alumni won 6-4), it was an incredible family-friendly day that raised critical funds for MDSC programs and services.  The event included:
Special thanks to everyone involved, including our sponsors, who made the event possible. Check out photos from the event by Frank Jansen Photography here

Bruins 50/50 Night at the TD Garden 
The MDSC's 50/50 Night at the TD Garden on November 3 was a huge success. thanks to the incredible cast of volunteers who worked the game, the Boston Bruins Foundation, who hosted the event, and the generosity of Bruins fans, who opened their wallets for a good cause. 

The event brought in more than  $20,000, half of which went to one lucky fan and half goes to support MDSC programs and services for people with Down syndrome! 

Bruins/MDSC Partnership
For more than a decade, the MDSC and the Boston Bruins Foundation have joined forces to support people with Down syndrome and their families. This partnership has raised money and awareness, largely through two major annual events - the MDSC/Boston Bruins Alumni Hockey Benefit Game and the Bruins' 50/50 Raffle Event. The foundation has also provided grant funding to directly support our Parents First Call program.
The foundation's steadfast support has raised significant funds to benefit our programs and has helped the general public understand that people with Down syndrome should not be defined by their diagnosis.
Boston Herald: Alice Hawley, Teen with Down Syndrome, Overcomes Stroke to Dance in Pioneer Valley Ballet's Nutcracker

"The parents of Northampton resident Alice Hawley - a 14-year-old with Down syndrome - didn't know if their baby girl would ever walk, let alone dance.  But the middle schooler will plie and spin her way across the stage this weekend in the Pioneer Valley Ballet production of 'The Nutcracker.'

'If someone told me when she was born that she'd be dancing ballet, I would have laughed. And then I would have cried,' said her father, Steve Hawley. 'I feel so much pride in her. She's doing better than we could have expected.'"

Alice was born with plenty of barriers between her and the stage. Along with having Down syndrome - which often comes with low muscle tone and loose ligaments - Alice suffered a stroke after she was born. A blood clot from the placenta was sent through her heart and carotid artery, and lodged in three different places in her brain.

The stroke impaired motor control on the right side of her body. It took Alice four years and a great deal of physical therapy before she learned how to walk.

At 5 years old, she began to dance.

Read the full story here
Warmest Wishes to You and Your Family This Holiday Season from All of Us at the MDSC
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