NIFLA Recognizes Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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NIFLA’s nationwide network of more than 1,600 pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics are here to provide support and life-affirming options to families dealing with this diagnosis. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, so NIFLA would like to recognize the lives of children and adults living with Down syndrome. 

All Children Have the Right to Life

Babies with Down syndrome are often the targets of eugenic abortion. Abortion advocates argue that people with Down syndrome can’t live fulfilling lives. They contend that the hardships of Down syndrome will hold children back and that it would be better to just abort them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Children with Down syndrome are worth protecting. Like all human life, these precious babies are made in the image of God. In addition, our list below provides ample evidence that Down syndrome won’t stop them from having successful, meaningful lives.

Here are a few examples of individuals with Down syndrome leading extraordinary lives while helping to make the world a better place.

Zack Gottsagen: Professional Actor Raising Awareness for Down Syndrome

Zack Gottsagen starred in Peanut Butter Falcon, a film that came out in 2019. The story is about a man with Down syndrome who has aspirations of becoming a wrestler. Gottsagen attended and spoke at the Oscars following the film’s release. He – along with his co-star, Shia LeBeouf – presented the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film.

LeBeouf has spoken highly of Gottsagen in interviews. He is grateful he had the opportunity to work with Gottsagen.

Gigi Gianni: Singer and Philanthropist

Gigi Gianni, the namesake of Gigi’s Playhouse, sang the national anthem at a Chicago White Sox game in June 2019.

Nancy Gianni founded Gigi’s Playhouse shortly after her daughter was born. Gigi’s Playhouse is an organization that provides support for families and children with Down syndrome through various programs.

Hayle Hartmann: Entrepreneur and Advocate

Hayle Hartmann founded Nixa Clothing Company with her mother, Holly. Nixa Clothing Company sells women’s clothes.

Hayle is a proud supporter of the Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks (DSGO). She hopes she can use her business to support others with Down syndrome.

The mother-daughter duo recently opened a second location: N.C. Co. The original Nixa Clothing Company store is in The Attic Flea Market & Antiques, which is located in Nixa, MO. The new store is in the Battlefield Mall, which is located in Springfield, MO.

Chris Nikic: Athlete Inspiring Others to Persevere

Chris Nikic is a Special Olympics athlete who competes in triathlons. Nikic participated in the Ironman Florida triathlon in 2020. He became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. Nikic received a Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance and a Best Athlete with a Disability in Men’s Sports Award during the 2021 ESPY Awards.

His accomplishment has inspired others to play sports despite having a Down syndrome diagnosis.

NIFLA Pregnancy Centers Are Here to Support Families With Down Syndrome

Many mothers feel unsupported by their doctors when their preborn children are diagnosed with Down syndrome. Melissa Burgos, whose son has Down syndrome, described the lack of support she received during her pregnancy in a Community News article:

“I was shocked by the misinformation that I received from doctors and the experience that I had during my pregnancy with regards to the sort of support I received, or lack of support I received,” Burgos said.

NIFLA’s nationwide network includes more than 1,600 pregnancy centers across the United States. Over 1,200 of those centers operate as licensed medical clinics. NIFLA centers provide support and guidance for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. They supply resources so women can overcome any barrier and choose life for their children.

“NIFLA centers are here to provide mothers, fathers and families with the support they need to face any obstacle, including the unique opportunities and challenges that come with a Down syndrome diagnosis during pregnancy.”

Anne O’Connor, NIFLA Vice President of Legal Affairs

Mothers and families expecting children with Down syndrome receive the tools they need to see the humanity of their children. Please visit our donation page to learn more about how you can support the life-saving work of pregnancy centers in your community.

Heather Valenzano graduated from Iona College in 2019 with a degree in Mass Communications, a concentration in Journalism and a minor in English. She wrote blogs on adoption and surrogacy during a previous internship with Adoption Choices of Oklahoma.