Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Celebrating People’s Abilities


October typically brings me to a fresh awareness of a few things.  I know the fall season officially kicks off at the end of September, but I typically don’t start feeling very much of that in South Florida until October.  The month of October also brings with it a fresh overflowing of gratitude and fun.  Our family gets to celebrate birthdays for my husband and son.  And an entirely different kind of awareness also takes place for us in October, because this month is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Personal Awareness

My own personal Down syndrome awareness began nearly thirty years ago when I started dating my husband.  When I first met him, I did not have and had not had any experience with Down syndrome.  I knew what it was, and that was about it.  Well, at least I thought I knew what it was.  I had no idea the full meaning of what those words meant, and the profound impact they would have on my life.  They forever changed my awareness of many things.

It was part of how my husband introduced himself to me, and to everyone.  “I have a little brother who has Down syndrome.  His name is Jose.”    

Jose is a part of who my husband was and is.  He was his first child in many respects.

My husband cared and fought for Jose for decades.  I am convinced my husband’s heart for lay-down-your-life-for-others service was born during this time.  My husband was Jose’s advocate before he was even fully aware of what that word meant.  He was his brother’s champion during a time when advocacy and support for those with Down syndrome, along with their caregivers, was extremely difficult to find and frequently misunderstood.

Hearing the stories of mocking, isolation, and exhaustion made the stories of those God sent to step in with love, care, and support shine that much brighter.  The only thing that could possibly shine brighter than that was Jose’s joy, with his ability to communicate and express it in ways that his inability to speak could not keep him from.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Celebrating People's Abilities Becky Gonzalez Contributor Miami Moms BlogNational Awareness

I’ll continue with glimpses into my personal awareness of Down syndrome in just a little bit.  First, I’d love to share some resources with you.  I hope they will be helpful to you in whatever stage of awareness with Down Syndrome you find yourself in.   

The National Association for Down Syndrome is the oldest organization in the country serving individuals with Down syndrome and their families.  Their mission is to support all people with Down syndrome to achieve their full potential. 

In order to fulfill their mission, they will:

  • Provide families with Down syndrome members with information and resources to enable them to access and evaluate appropriate services.
  • Educate the public about Down syndrome.
  • Address social policy issues and challenges facing the Down syndrome community.
  • Facilitate and encourage active participation by self-advocates and families in the delivery of education, vocational, residential and other services for persons with Down syndrome.

Miami Awareness

National awareness has trickled down into local awareness in Miami.  Down Syndrome Association of Miami’s mission is to educate the Miami-Dade community about Down syndrome and promote positive acceptance of individuals living with Down syndrome.

They strive to illustrate that living, learning, and working with individuals with Down syndrome is a natural part of the daily lives of every person in our community. The Down Syndrome Association of Miami celebrates each life that is born with Down syndrome.

Their 12th annual Miracle Walk and 5K for Down Syndrome takes place in Coral Gables on Sunday, November 3rd, 2019.  Click here for additional information.

More Than Just a Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Celebrating People's Abilities Becky Gonzalez Contributor Miami Moms Blog

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is an opportunity to spread awareness, and to celebrate people’s abilities and accomplishments, not their disabilities.  Because of my brother-in-law Jose, my life, along with the lives of my children and our whole family, will forever be marked by a keen awareness of Down syndrome in a way that can never be limited to just one month a year.   It is also now a bittersweet awareness since his passing in January of 2015.  The grief is now part of our joy.  But it is still an awareness we will fight for and celebrate.  People with Down syndrome are still people, and that is something so worth celebrating.



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