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GOOD NEWS: It's Times Square for Down syndrome pair

A Jacksonville teen with Down syndrome will appear in a video in Times Square to raise awareness for the chromosomal disorder.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Caleb Prewitt, a 13-year-old from Jacksonville, will appear in a video to be streamed Sept. 12 in Times Square in New York as part of the National Down Syndrome Society's annual video presentation in the celebrated destination.

The featured photographs highlight children, teens and adults with Down syndrome, reminding the world in a big way about the contributions and milestones of people with Down syndrome, a news release said. These collective images promote the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

“This video is a terrific way to showcase some of the incredible individuals with Down syndrome living in our communities across the country,” said Kandi Pickard, society president and CEO. “It is something the community looks forward to every year.” 

The photo of Caleb and friend Brogan Paul of Lakeland was selected as one of 500 photographs that will appear in the video, streamed on NDSS social media from the heart of Times Square. Caleb is pictured in a fun behind-the-scenes photo with his friend Brogan. They were dressed up for a World Down Syndrome Day awareness montage by Jacksonville photographer Logan Rose. 

The Times Square Video presentation kicks off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.

Credit: Florida Times-Union
Participants in the First Coast YMCA's Back-to-School Bash hand out backpacks filled with supplies for children of military families. The drive-thru event took place in early August.

Here's more good news:

• The First Coast YMCA provided about 400 children of military families with backpacks full of school supplies early this month during its Back-to-School Bash. The annual event was done as a drive-thru to ensure the safety and well-being of families participating.

About 20 staff, volunteers and board members from the Dye Clay and Barco-Newton Family YMCAs came out to support the event and give back to active military families across Northeast Florida. 

Backpacks containing back-to-school supplies await children of military families at the First Coast YMCA's annual Back-to-School Bash. The drive-thru event took place in early August. [Provided photo]

• "Christmas in July," the annual Wolfson Children's Hospital toy drive and fundraiser, ended July 31. And though the effort was virtual this year because of COVID-19 concerns, it did not stop generous donations.

The hospital about 2,800 new toys for patients and $10,900 in monetary donations, officials said. The money will allow Child Life specialists to purchase developmentally appropriate toys for children throughout the year.

Santa Claus and his elves usually deliver toys to Wolfson Children’s patients in person the morning of July 25, but amid COVID-19 precautions this year he made a special Christmas Eve Facebook Live appearance instead. He called for toys to be donated via the Christmas in July Amazon registry and financial donations on ChristmasJuly.com.

Christmas in July began about 10 years ago as a way to restock the hospital’s toy closets in the summer when they typically run low. Toys are vital to children’s development and their ability to cope while in the hospital. For Child Life specialists, who work directly with young patients to offer comfort, distraction and age-appropriate education about their procedures, toys are their most important tools. 

“Even in the midst of a pandemic, when we are all experiencing different levels of uncertainty, our community still showed up for its children,” said Michael D. Aubin, president of Wolfson. “To our patients, these toys are much more than just Legos and craft sets. Our Child Life specialists use toys to help these children feel normal and develop on track while they’re in our care. We deeply appreciate everyone who donated.”

• The nonprofit Firehouse Public Subs Safety Foundation has made a grant of 300 $10 Firehouse Subs gift cards to River Garden Hebrew Homes, where they will be handed out to the staff as an expression of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to caring for residents.

Credit: Firehouse Subs
Michelle Branly, development associate at River Garden Hebrew Home, with Firehouse Subs gift cards donated by Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to River Garden staff.

River Garden employees can stop at Firehouse Subs locations to pick up dinner and avoid what can sometimes feel like a chore: cooking.

Since March 18, the foundation, in partnership with Jacksonville-based Firehouse Subs, has fed at least 2,000 of Jacksonville’s health care workers and first responders on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as individuals and families in need and seniors who are unable to leave their homes.

Read the original version of this story from our news partners, the Florida Times-Union.

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