By Emily Fedor
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome. That’s about 6,000 each year.
In honor of March 21 being World Down Syndrome Day, the Dunmorean is proud to recognize one of the borough’s youngest residents as this month’s “Dunmorean of the Month.”
Tommy Williams is one year old. Come July 19, that number will change to two.
His parents, Julie and Mark, say he’s just like any other toddler. He loves to play catch, crawl around the house and, of course, play with his big brother Alex and big sister Kelcey.
“He’s full of life. He loves to play and laugh,” his mom Julie said.
The only thing that’s a little different about Tommy is that he was born with an extra chromosome.
The Williams first learned of the diagnosis from an ultrasound performed when Julie was 20 weeks pregnant. The scan showed three soft markers — or possible indicators — that Tommy could have Down Syndrome.
And months later when Tommy was born, that possibility turned out to be a reality. Doctors told Julie and Mark their new baby boy did in fact have Down Syndrome — specifically, Trisomy 21, which is the most common type of Down Syndrome.
As you may know, people who have Down Syndrome may look and learn a little differently, but that doesn’t mean Tommy or others who have the condition can’t live life to the fullest.
Every week, Tommy spends hours in therapy to ensure that. He’s been going through both physical and occupational therapy sessions since he was just a few months old. And now that he’s a little older and starting to use his vocal chords, he’ll soon be starting speech therapy too.
As for how long those sessions will last, well, that’s all up to Tommy.
“Therapists say it’s all up to what Tommy does. Every kid is different. They don’t go at the same pace,” said Julie. “So it’s up to him. We’ll just see what he does.”
So everyone can see what Tommy’s doing, Julie Williams decided to create a Facebook page called “Tommy’s Troopers.”
“So many people wanted to see Tommy and wanted to follow him,” she said. “So I thought, why don’t I just make a page? That way anyone who wants to follow Tommy can just go to this page.”
On the Tommy’s Troopers page, Julie posts milestones that Tommy has reached, such as his first words: “boo” and “hi.” She also shares details for fundraisers and events aiming to raise awareness for her son’s condition, as well as information from “Nothing Down” — a non-profit organization for which Tommy is an ambassador.
The community of Bucktown always rallies around its own, and this little guy is no exception. To show that Dunmore is down with Tommy, borough officials even went as far as proclaiming October 20 as “Tommy Williams Down Syndrome Awareness Day” this past fall.
According to a report from the TImes Tribune, council President Michael McHale said, “It’s rare that we as council are without words, but we couldn’t be more happy and more proud of this fellow Dunmorean.”
“Dunmore is just so supportive of him,” said Julie. “I run into people and they’ll say “Hi Tommy,” and I don’t know who they are. People just know him, and I’m glad Dunmore is so supportive of all kids in our area.”
Julie says she wants people to know one thing about her son’s condition, and that is despite how scary the condition may seem, it’s really not scary at all.
“There’s nothing scary about Down Syndrome. When I was pregnant and found out, it was scary for me,” said Julie, “but Tommy is no different than my other two children. He’s so lovable, and he’s just a normal little kid.”
For more information about Down Syndrome, feel free to visit NothingDown.org.