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Valley proclaims Oct. 1 Down Syndrome Awareness day

VALLEY — Lavonne Williams and Savannah Black had an extra special reason to receive a mayor’s proclamation at Monday’s evening meeting of the Valley City Council. The proclamation recognized Thursday, Oct. 1 as Down Syndrome Awareness Day and October as Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Williams and Black now live in Lee County but are originally from Valley. Both are active in their support of Down Syndrome Alabama.

Their special reason for doing this? Black’s three-year-old son, Exton, has Down Syndrome.

“He’s on a ventilator a lot,” said Williams, his grandmother. “He has to be near five machines all the time.”

It was especially scary when he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year.

“We all had it,” Williams said. “But Exton came through it like a champion. That little boy is a fighter, and he whipped COVID-19.”

Exton recently got his wish from the Make a Wish Foundation. They gave him a camper.

The Down Syndrome Awareness Day/Month proclamation was presented to Williams and Black by Council Member Randall Maddux.

“As the parent of a special needs child, I am truly sympathetic with you on what you are dealing with,” Maddux told them.

The proclamation notes that Down Syndrome is the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in the U.S. It occurs once in an estimated 5,000 births in the U.S. An estimated 250,000 U.S. citizens are afflicted with Down Syndrome.

“Through the efforts of parents, activists, advocacy organizations and self-advocates, people with Down Syndrome are offered early intervention services, attend school, procure appropriate health care, choose to live at home or independently, receive transition service and vocational training, have meaningful relationships, volunteer opportunities, maintain a job, experience a life of inclusion and rewarding maturity,” the proclamation reads. “We encourage all citizens to work together to celebrate the lives of individuals with Down Syndrome, presume competence, recognize accomplishments, promote awareness, be mindful to develop communities and laws that will improve their well being and quality of life, support their caretakers and service providers, and remember to appreciate and regard every individual with dignity as a valued member of the community.”

The proclamation expresses support for the initiatives of organizations working to ensure that people with Down Syndrome have adequate services, are valued by society and can have fulfilling and productive lives in the community.