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Our First Press Release!! Woo Hoo!

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:14pm
The Traveling Afghan - One blanket. Hundreds of families. One common thread!

For Immediate Release: Franklin, TX-

In 2004, CJ Field of Appleton, WI began considering adoption to expand her family and give her 7-yr-old son, Brendan a sibling to grow up with. She decided to consider adopting a child with Down syndrome, so CJ began her search for information online and connected with a support system which provided her with numerous friendships and valuable information. Soon after, fifteen month old Emmalee became part of the family and CJ became part of a growing group of parents advocating for their children with Down syndrome.

Individuals with Down syndrome (Ds) can sometimes experience a variety of health conditions associated with the third copy of the 21st chromosome that causes Ds. Some may be born with heart conditions, while others may have digestive problems, thyroid conditions or Leukemia. Most of the health complications associated with Down syndrome can be treated with proper medical care and individuals with Down syndrome are leading long, healthy lives because of these medical advances. However, it can sometimes be hard for a family coping with these conditions at the time.

While young Emmalee is relatively healthy, CJ noticed a lot of the little ones in her online circle going through many medical hardships. After teaching herself to crochet, CJ wanted to provide those children with an afghan to comfort them and let them know she was thinking about them and their families.

“This was my way to reach out to these families” says Field, “but there was not enough yarn or time to make every single child an afghan of their own.”

CJ decided to go a different route-one that would not only comfort the families, but also connect them in a very special way. Field decided to make one afghan that would travel throughout the world to reach all families of children with Down syndrome. The idea appealed to many families and in March 2009 “The Traveling Afghan” began its journey. When a family receives the afghan, pictures are taken to share on the website and the children are comforted with its soft fibers and bright colors before it is mailed to the next family down the line. But this is more than just a photo shoot. The Traveling Afghan has connected families of children with Down syndrome throughout the world in a very unique way that strengthens the bond between these families. It has also reconnected CJ with a child she provided foster care for during the child's first three years of life. This child has now been adopted and has an afghan of her own specially made by Field.

In just the short few months that The Traveling Afghan has been moving from family to family, the project has grown so much that it now has its own website and calendar, and has become a great tool of awareness for those with Ds. Families from all 50 states and 15 countries have added their name to the waiting list to receive their chance to share this common bond.

The Traveling Afghan will take a unique journey across the United States in July to reach the Down Syndrome Research & Awareness Conference-BUILDING BRIDGES FOR DOWN SYNDROME, being held in Cincinnati, OH on July 10-12. This International life-span conference is hosted by the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati (DSAGC) and is being brought to the area by International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association (IMDSA). IMDSA’s president, Kristy Colvin will begin the journey with the afghan from her residence in Central Texas and make stops along the way to spread awareness about Down syndrome. Everyone attending the conference will have the opportunity to participate in the first largest photo shoot with The Traveling Afghan and then send it on its way to the next family to continue its journey. CJ Field has also generously donated another afghan which will be available at the conference’s Silent Auction that Friday evening.

The project has become so popular among the families of children with Down syndrome that it has also branched off into "An Afghan of Their Own" in which CJ provides many children with their own afghan. To date, 24 children have received their very own afghan, in the same pattern as The Traveling Afghan in their choice of colors. To include your name on the growing list of families or make a donation so others can receive “An Afghan of Their Own” you can visit the website at www.thet21travelingafghanproject.com

For more information about the Down Syndrome Research & Awareness Conference- BUILDING BRIDGES FOR DOWN SYNDROME held in Cincinnati, OH, visit www.imdsa.org or call 888-MDS-LINK.
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