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SparkleSister Lara wants to give her son Parker, a thriving eight-year-old, the opportunities we all enjoy in life. You would never know it from his joy and passion for life, but Parker’s life is more challenging because he has Down syndrome. Lara said before Parker was born their family didn’t know anything about Down syndrome, but after receiving his diagnosis they learned a lot.
In honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we are sharing Lara’s story to help educate others on this genetic disorder and continue the fundraising momentum for much-needed cognitive research.
Lara explained that over the last couple of decades, inclusion and improved healthcare has enhanced the quality of life and increased life expectancy for those with Down syndrome. However, despite these facts, there remains unmet medical needs to address learning challenges and the increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s Disease. Down syndrome cognitive research had been largely lacking because many in the medical field and those agencies that supported them with funding had considered the problem too complex. However, scientific advances have made it possible to understand how specific genes are linked to specific abnormalities in the structure and function of the brain. Lara said we need to increase the amount of private research dollars spent on individuals living with Down syndrome to support these exciting opportunities in research. That’s why she and her husband teamed up with LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation, a non-profit foundation that supports Down syndrome cognitive research.
“We needed to run for a reason. The potential of these treatments to address Down syndrome cognitive dysfunction is tremendous - improving memory, learning and communication – and expanding and enhancing life opportunities for these individuals.” Parker participated in a clinical trial because of the money Lara and her family raised. Though they’ve exceeded their last two fundraising goals—for a total of $22,000 raised—they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. She and her husband, Mike, have several races planned before the end of the year and have a goal of $5,000. Next up is the Disney Wine & Dine weekend where they will run the 10K and half marathon. Both will be in their SparkleSkirts and SpareParts gear!
Having been a SparkleSister for over five years, Lara Sparkles at all her runDisney races. Lara's favorite running attire is her SparkleSkirt paired with her Parker's Heroes fundraising shirt. She fell in love with SparkleSkirts at her first Run Disney race because, “it didn't fall down, ride up, or chafe, and course it had pockets for her cell phone and BLING (love the challenge pictures with all the medals).” The bright colors and themed skirts make it possible for Lara to have a "costume" with her charity shirts when she can't wear the typical Disney costume. “The skirts are high quality and wash so well.”
“Because of your support, we know the future is bright for Parker and his friends.” Lara does most of her fundraising online through her network of friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Check out the awesome video they put together to help educate people and encourage donations.
“We race for the extraordinary, and we encourage you to join us or donate to this critical research.” If you’re interested in creating your own team to become one of Parker’s Heroes, visit the RDS Runners page on LuMind’s site.