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Celebrating moms, children with Down syndrome

Mother's Day has come and gone but the National Down Syndrome Society will continue to honor moms through an online journal called, "My Great Story."

The NDSS created the storybook collection so people could submit inspirational stories celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of those with Down syndrome. A new section invites participants to share stories about the women who have a son or daughter with Down syndrome.

Syracuse resident Talina Jones told her story about her son Tajee and all the light he brings to her life.

"My son is the love of my life," she said. "The day he was born, my entire life changed. But this story is not about me, it is about the greatness of what his life can and will be."

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. According to NDSS, one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades, from 25 in 1983 to 60 today. People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them and contribute to society in many ways.

Shari Bottego, president of the Down Syndrome Association of Central New York, established the local affiliate of NDSS, located in Manlius, about 19 years ago, after her son was born with the disorder.

"The main reason I was interested in getting a support group started in this area was to connect with other families who have a child with Down syndrome," said Bottego, whose son David was already 2 years old at the time. "I was new to the Syracuse area and did not know anyone."

Bottego said she left the hospital with her newborn son without any information on Down syndrome. It was 1989 and the Internet wasn't what it is today, she said.

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