World Down Syndrome Day is being observed Saturday with events in Arkansas and throughout the country.
Typically, a person has 23 pairs of chromosomes. Those with Down syndrome have an additional copy of a third chromosome, chromosome 21, according to Tim Kinnard, president of the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association. He said that’s why March 21 is a perfect day for the events.
"The purpose of the day is to let the world know what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives," Kinnard said.
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, there are over 400,000 people living with the genetic disorder.
At the Big Dam Bridge Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m., there will be a release of blue and yellow balloons and the bridge will be lit up in the Down syndrome awareness colors.
Donations of books, toys and money are also be accepted in honor of Arabella Mash, a nine-month-old girl with the disorder who died last year. All proceeds will go to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
"This year marks the tenth anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and this serves as one of our big awareness campaigns for the Down syndrome community," Kinnard said.
Also on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., a portion of the sales at the Cantrell restaurant Mooyah will be donated to the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association. Other celebrations are being held in Hot Springs and Manila, Arkansas.
For more details about the events visit http://www.ardownsyndrome.org/Events_WDSD.html.