James White’s father has witnessed firsthand the challenges that individuals with Down syndrome and their loved ones face. However, he prefers to focus on the many positives and urges others to do the same.
World Down Syndrome Day is marked every year on March 21 to help raise awareness and advocate for equitable inclusion of those with Down syndrome.
The date — the 21st day of the third month of the year — represents a third copy of chromosome 21, the genetic structure unique to people with Down syndrome.
Each year, Jeremy White strives to ensure that others recognize and appreciate this significant day.
Jeremy, a business intelligence reporting analyst at Norton Healthcare, helps raise awareness for World Down Syndrome Day by encouraging people to wear mismatched or vibrant socks as part of the global #LotsOfSocks campaign.
As a father to James, an 8-year-old with Down syndrome, Jeremy has witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by individuals with the genetic condition and their loved ones. However, he prefers to focus on the many positives and urges others to do the same.
“I’ve learned to appreciate that which is most important,” Jeremy said. “My son is so full of life and is such a joyful kid. He constantly surprises me with what he’s learning and the way he sees the world.”
James’ diagnosis came as a surprise to Jeremy and his wife. The couple didn’t fully understand what Down syndrome was or what it would mean for their son. Lack of knowledge can lead to changing hopes and expectations too drastically, as parents naturally fear perceived limitations for their children. That’s part of the reason Jeremy now works passionately to spread awareness and encouragement to benefit those impacted by Down syndrome and others with disabilities.
“I want to help empower my son, and the thousands of others like him in our community, to reach their fullest potential,” Jeremy said. “We all need to look beyond the surface and be willing to give everyone an opportunity to express who they are and what they can contribute. That means seeing people as individuals rather than using biases and stereotypes to categorize them and place artificial limits on what they can achieve.”
Those who take the time to look beyond James’ diagnosis find a talented, thoughtful, unique, imaginative, spirited child, who happens to have a genetic condition. James is a bright kid, sharing what he learns in school with his parents. Other times, he’s a natural performer, singing, dancing or playing his harmonica. He’s an athlete, trying his hand at baseball, Frisbee and basketball. He’s creative and enjoys reenacting scenes from his favorite movies with his dad. Down syndrome is just one part of what makes James who he is.
“When we focus on the individuality of a person, their unique strengths and characteristics, we can elevate them beyond any perceived obstacle,” Jeremy said. “Compassion and empathy are fundamental to achieving this.”