Jack and Suzanne Shepherd
The Down syndrome community of central Texas is blessed with a great support organization. Founded in 1991, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT) offers a wealth of programs for every stage of life. We want to recognize DSACT for its generous support of the LuMind Foundation and share what makes them such a special group.
To learn more about DSACT, we spoke to Suzanne Shepherd, the Co-President of the Board of Directors and Healthcare Chair, as well as a busy mom to Jack, who is 17 and happens to have Down syndrome.
Suzanne first became involved with DSACT as a parent after Jake’s birth in 1997. In 2007, she joined the board of DSACT and she has been active in the organization ever since. Suzanne has been instrumental in developing many of DSACT’s programs, from outreach efforts to healthcare professionals to social groups for kids of all ages along with a wide variety of activities and classes. DSACT offers a truly amazing number of programs: book clubs; swimming, dance, and cooking classes; visual and martial arts; etc.
But what we at the LuMind Foundation appreciate beyond anything else is DSACT’s strong commitment to our joint mission of funding Down syndrome cognition research. DSACT has donated very generously to LuMind over the past several years. They have also organized a Research 101 seminar with LuMind’s Dr. Michael Harpold and Carolyn Cronin to educate and inform their members of the progress that has been made in the past decade.
“The research that wasn’t there when my son was born is now there,” says Suzanne, “and that gives me hope!” Hope because, Suzanne points out, “These cognitive treatments will allow people with Down syndrome to make greater strides toward living independent lives.”
Today, we can point to very important discoveries in the area of cognition at well-recognized and prestigious institutions. And, as Suzanne says, it’s more efficient for local organizations to pool their money together to fund research at the national level. In an ideal world, Suzanne would like every affiliate to follow DSACT’s example by contributing 5% of their budget to benefit LuMind and the important cognitive research we fund. We would love that too, Suzanne!