First Spouse Light the Way Initiative Observed on World Down Syndrome Day

In an initiative led by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, First Spouses from U.S. states and territories observed for the second year the Light the Way event on World Down Syndrome Day March 21. The goal of the event is to enhance awareness of the rapidly advancing area of Down syndrome cognitive research, which holds great promise for improving memory, learning and communication for individuals of all ages with Down syndrome.

Participating First Spouses lit their respective governor residences in the color blue, or recognized the event in a variety of other ways in order to bring greater attention to Down syndrome cognitive research. Participation included: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Research Down Syndrome is grateful for the continued support of this program by the First Spouses. Many local Ds associations have joined the effort by making financial commitments to Down syndrome cognitive research. Progress is encouraging, including the initiation by Roche of a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate a molecule designed to address the cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with Down syndrome. Multiple pathways for potential drug targets are being investigated. A national Down syndrome research consortium has been formed.

The Down syndrome community nationwide needs to sustain this momentum. Together we can continue this progress which holds such tremendous promise for people of all ages with Down syndrome.

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