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Young adults with Down syndrome busy living life

More Information

Helping out

What: The 14th annual DSANI Buddy Walk celebrates Down Syndrome Awareness Month during October. The 1.5-mile walk is designed to create awareness about Down syndrome and to raise funds for local and national Down syndrome support programs. Activities include live entertainment, a picnic and children's activities. The event is open to the public.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, with the walk at 11 a.m.
Where: Shoaff Park, 6401 St. Joe Road
Information: The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana (DSANI) is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the lives of people affected by Down syndrome. For more information, call 471-9964 or email dsani4u@aol.com. You can also learn more at www.dsani.org.

It is just part of who they are, and they don't see it as problem.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 12:01 am

Cameron Shomo, 17, loves to go bowling and play baseball and golf. He hopes to become a zookeeper.

Kristy Meeks, 20, has danced since age 8, played baseball since age 10 and now holds a paying job.

Sam Floyd, 18, swims, plays baseball, basketball and golf, and recently has gotten into cycling.

All three young people were born with Down syndrome. But they don't see it as a problem. It's just who they are.

That's a view shared by many people born with Down syndrome, based on study results reported in the October 2011 edition of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A. It's also an attitude celebrated during October, which is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition resulting when a person has an extra chromosome in most or all of his or her cells, the National Down Syndrome Society says at www.ndss.org. As a result, the person typically has poor muscle tone, a small stature, eyes slanting upward and mild to moderate delay in mental development.

The national survey questioned 284 people around the country who are ages 12 and older and who have Down syndrome, the study abstract said. Researchers sought the information so they could share it with new and expectant parents of children with Down syndrome.

The key findings: Nearly 99 percent of people with Down syndrome said they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they are and 96 percent liked how they look.

Shomo, Meeks and Floyd fall into that majority, leading busy and happy lives.

Shomo, for example, took a step this summer toward becoming a zookeeper by being a member of the Z Team at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. The program helps teens explore animal-related careers while developing professional skills as they help with the summer zoo day camp, assist zookeepers and share information with zoo visitors.

Meeks, who graduated last spring from Homestead High School, worked at the Goodwill store in Covington Plaza through a school work-study program.

The store liked her work, so the staff offered her a part-time, paid job in June, she said. She currently works six hours a week, mainly hanging clothes on racks by size and type.

Meeks also sings and dances with the worship team at the Wednesday family night service at Emmanuel Community Church, where her family attends.

She — just as Shomo and Floyd — eventually hopes to move out on her own. She also would like to have a boyfriend and to continue working at Goodwill.

“I like it there,” she said of the store. “I like the people there.”

Floyd is gaining job experience by cleaning offices at his father's business, Floyd & Associates.

Floyd really enjoys baseball, and he'd eventually like to work for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. He's also gotten more involved in his family's Catholic faith, currently attending class for confirmation and also going through training to become an altar server at Mass at St. Jude Catholic Church.

In short, they are doing many of same things as other people their age. And like those interviewed in the national survey, they wouldn't want it any other way.