"The first book I read said that my child would not live beyond the age of 10. I closed the book and got another one," she said. "One of the most important 'services' our support group offers is having new parent packets in the area hospitals so when a child is born with Down syndrome, the parents leave with the most up-to-date information available. I want them to know they are not alone and there are others around who can answer any questions they may have."
About 175 families belong to the local chapter run by volunteers and include residents in Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, Cortland and Oneida counties. The board consists of five individuals, all of whom have a child or adult with Down syndrome. A monthly newsletter lists meetings, social events, workshop and conference information as well as studies on Down syndrome that members can participate in. The support group meets monthly except in August. There are four annual social events that members can attend. In June, DSA of CNY holds a Family Fun Bowl and in December, members come together for a holiday party. In February, the chapter holds a Valentine's Day dance and in July a clambake - more than 200 people attend each of these events.
In 1995, the NDSS began a public awareness walk, with which the Central New York chapter has been involved for 12 years. DSA of CNY will host its 13th annual Buddy Walk, which is free, on Sunday Sept. 25 at Longbranch Park in Liverpool. Walkers receive a free picnic lunch afterward, with carnival games, balloons, music and face painting to entertain the kids. Last year, more than 1,700 people participated.
Bottego said having her son David, now 21, has made her family appreciate the little things in life.
"His laugh can turn a bad day into a happy day," she said. "My husband always says that every day is a good day for David," who exercises daily, is active in Special Olympics and socializes regularly with his peers.