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October Also Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - It is not unusual to see people wearing pink in October. From hospital patients to football players, the nation adopts the color in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But for thousands of local families, October is not just for pink, but also for blue and yellow — the colors that represent Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Mattie Gabbert is a stay-at-home mom, staying very busy taking care of her 18-month-old son, Rhett. “I love every minute of it,” she said. “We have therapy at least three times a week: physical, occupational, speech.”

Rhett was born with Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal condition, affecting one in every 691 kids. The diagnosis can be devastating for new parents. “It’s like, you think your world is ending. It’s almost like you lost a baby,” Mattie said. “The way I reacted, I look back and think that is so silly.”

The month of October is set aside to raise awareness of Down syndrome, and to help the community better understand the condition. “People with Down syndrome are more alike than different,” said Lindsay Klatzkin with the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County.

Through the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County, Mattie was able to find the resources that Rhett needed to help him thrive. She was also connected to other parents, like Amber Holmes. Her son, Chance, also has the genetic disorder. “We are, I like to say, a massive support group for families and individuals with Down syndrome,” said Klatzkin.

And now, Mattie said that she would not change a thing about her life, or her son. “They can do just as much as any other child. It may take them a little longer, but they can do it,” she said. “I want him to be with everyone else, and to be treated as a normal citizen, because that’s what he is.”

The Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County is hosting a free ‘Buddy Walk’ event at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday at the University of Texas at Arlington. The event is designed to promote acceptance, and help provide families with support and services. About 5,000 people are expected to attend.

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