The young to not-so-young, kids to grandmothers, experienced runners to walkers who were challenged to tread the 3.1-mile course, laced up their shoes Saturday morning at DeKalb West School for this fundraising event in honor of Grant Brown and Down Syndrome awareness.
Grant, who was born with Down syndrome was the friendly 2015 "Face of the Race." He is the third child of Stephen and Amanda Brown, who are the parents to Grant’s two siblings, Austin, a student at D.C.H.S., and Lydia, an eighth-grader at DeKalb West School.
"In the beginning, it’s devastating," Grant’s mom said of his early newborn days. "You want everything to be perfect. Really, now, looking at him, he is perfect."
Children born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. Normally, people are born with 46 chromosomes. An individual with Down’s has 47.
"That extra chromosome is okay," Brown said. "We wouldn’t change him for a minute."
Admittedly, raising a child with a genetic disorder took a period of adjustment, but overall, she says it has been a positive experience.
"Fortunately, we’ve not had a lot of the health issues that can come with Down’s," she said. "He’s very stubborn, but he’s very loving too."
"We were told a lot that they’re (D.S. children) a little more laid back and maybe not as active," Brown said. "That’s certainly not the case here. He’s a lot of fun and very energetic."
Grant’s DWS Pre-Kindergarten teacher Amy Pack-Young echoes his mother’s take on the little boy’s spunk.
"He is stubborn and energetic, but most of all very comical!" she said. "He loves to play in the IPad center, pretend play and dance. His favorite teacher is Holly (Bain, Educational Assistant). She has been awesome to work one-on-one with Grant within the classroom. I'm really his second favorite because I'm as stubborn as him," Young adds with a laugh.
Grant’s genetic disorder certainly has no bearing on his acceptance at school or anywhere in the community.
"All the preschoolers have overall been great with Grant," his teacher says. "They have taken him on as younger brother. Everyone at DWS knows Grant. He greets everyone with a hug, big smile and sometimes a kiss," Young said.
"He’s like a rock star almost," his mom says laughing. "He’s a celebrity. It’s the same way at church and wherever we go. It’s pretty funny."
Grant and his family are blessed with an abundance of support from other people including their church home at Salem Baptist Church and many members of the community.
"We’ve always had a lot of people behind us," Brown said. "That’s why our shirts say G-force. We have such a force behind us. Seeing the community come out like this has been amazing."
Over $6,000 was raised for Down syndrome awareness.