World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is on Sunday, March 21. WDSD is a unique annual opportunity for the global Down syndrome community to connect with our community to share ideas, experiences and knowledge. It also empowers each of us to advocate for equal rights for people with Down syndrome and reach out to key stakeholders to bring about positive change.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is a local, volunteer-based, nonprofit that is committed to offering support to all special needs individuals and their families. It provides free year-round programs, public education and family and individual activities.

“We are so excited to announce we have partnered with Pals Socks to help us celebrate World Down Syndrome Day,” said Ann Foyt, executive director of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. “We celebrate WDSD to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, to voice our challenges as parents raising a child with special needs and to show the public that having Down syndrome is not the end of the world. Our children/adults can and do go to school, learn new skills, hold jobs, fall in love, get married, vote and are valued and productive citizens.”

Pals Socks works with different organizations that have similar goals of making people’s daily existence happier, kinder and more peaceful. Pals Socks launched its Fundraising with Pals program in 2019.

Instead of focusing on one issue, it wanted to be able to support many different ways of making the world a happier place. This led to it creating a platform for anyone who wants to do good and support a cause they are passionate about. Pals Socks helps organizations and schools raise the funds they need and get the socks they love.

“As chromosomes look like socks, we encourage you to buy a pair and show them off,” Foyt said. “Don’t hide those socks. Start a conversation to raise awareness and promote inclusion. Get your family, coworkers and students involved to help you show off your Down syndrome pride, but also help us remind the community that we need their acceptance and support.”

Foyt and her team want people to take pictures of their socks and post them on the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FRIENDSWESTFLORIDA).

“Take pictures of yourself, your friends, family, coworkers and students wearing their socks and post them on our Facebook page,” Foyt said. “The picture with the most likes will receive a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice.”

To learn more about F.R.I.E.N.D.S., visit www.friendsdownsyndrometampa.com. To learn more about Pals Socks, visit www.palssocks.com.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.