On Saturday, October 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Clovis Rodeo Grounds parking lot, the Down Syndrome Association of Central California (DSACC) held their annual “Step Up for Down Syndrome” festival.
Booths, food and music attracted all sorts of families all with the intention of supporting those with down syndrome.
A gift raffle was also held in which prizes like a bicycle, gift baskets, and even four passes to Disneyland were offered.
This was the first time in three years that DSACC held the event in person and Jennifer Whiting, Executive Director of DSACC was excited to have a crowd of around 600 gather.
“Step Up for Down Syndrome is our largest awareness event of the year and actually the largest awareness event in the Central Valley.”
Whiting explained that the DSACC is a small organization and is not a part of a larger group across America.
The DSACC was founded in Fresno in 1999 and has grown to serve around 850 individuals across Central Valley as a non-profit organization.
DSACC assists these individuals from birth throughout their life expectancy which Whiting explained is sixty plus years, and not the early thirties, a large misconception against the demographic.
On the local level, the DSACC has an advocate group that hosts activities such as pottery classes or public speaking classes.
“Really we’re about reaching and providing support to the whole family, so not just the individual with down syndrome or the parent, but also siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles and everyone else whose lives are touched with down syndrome.”
On the relationship to Clovis and even the Rodeo Grounds, Whiting illustrated that the DSACC has grown rather large and in the span of hosting the “Step Up for Down Syndrome” event over the past thirteen years, the event has grown from around “maybe 200” to over 1200 just before the pandemic.
The Clovis Rodeo Grounds has housed the event for the past five times that they have held it.
In addition to the Clovis Rodeo Grounds, Old Town Clovis played host itself to a certain scavenger hunt put on by the DSACC.
After downloading a playboard from the DSACC website, participants, anyone who shops in the Old Town area, can venture throughout Clovis’ Old Town and find a seven inch sticker that the DSACC has hidden in specific shops.
The shops throughout Old Town are aware of the stickers and once told that a participant has found a sticker, will stamp a participant’s playboard. Prizes will be given at the end of the month of October, when the scavenger hunt ends, and also when Down Syndrome Awareness month ends.
Whiting summarized the event’s support from those who arrived and the sponsors of the event.
“We had a great group of sponsors…We’re an organization that doesn’t receive state or federal funding, so an event like this is really important for us to provide services for the following year.”
But most importantly, she explained that events like this are the perfect opportunity to get to know one another despite their dissimilarities. “It’s just a chance for us to celebrate everyone’s abilities and differences. “
To find more information on the Down Syndrome Association of Central California or the Scavenger Hunt, you can find their website at https://www.dsacc.org.