MDSC 30th Annual Champions Conference
Burlington’s Kyle Gendron will be honored with the MDSC’s Media Award on Saturday in Worcester for volunteering his time to photograph events for the MDSC and our partner organizations during the past three years. Kyle has been an unsung hero of the MDSC’s success in reaching a broad audience with our message of inclusion, empowerment and acceptance for people with Down syndrome.
On Saturday, March 22, one day after World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC), a Burlington-based non-profit organization will hold its 30th Annual Conference to celebrate the true Champions of the Down syndrome movement here in Massachusetts and demonstrate the resilience of our community and how we all pull together to ensure that people with Down syndrome everywhere have opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. Kyle Gendron will receive the award at the Awards Luncheon at the Conference.
Kyle’s gifts as a photographer are exceptional. He has an exquisite eye and understands the craft. But he also has a couple other attributes that make him entirely unique and valuable. Kyle has an insider’s perspective as a father to 7-year old Mary Elizabeth, affectionately known as M-E, who has Down syndrome. You can see in his photos of people with Down syndrome and their families that Kyle has internalized the mission of the MDSC. He photographs our families with a loving eye.
But beyond that, you will never meet anyone more generous than Kyle. Without flinching, he gives the MDSC full access to his trove of photos, knowing that he and we share the same mission. Time after time, he has offered to help in any way possible. “Kyle, can you set up a photo booth for our conference?” Sure! “Any way you can go on Burlington Community Television to tell about being’s M-E’s dad and represent the MDSC? Of course.
Though Kyle will tell you he’s “just an amateur” photographer, his final product proves otherwise – he is a true professional.This commitment to our cause is evident on Kyle’s website, where he has devoted an entire gallery to “Down syndrome events.” Since his daughter was born in 2006, Kyle has been a mainstay at not only MDSC events but the events of our partners, including 21 FrienDs, Morning Travelers, or our DADS affiliate.
Year after year, Kyle has shot practically every kind of event for the MDSC - our annual Hockey Benefit, Educators Forum and New Family Socials. He has photographed our Buddy Walk for each of the past 7 years, including two of our Buddy Walks last year, and our Annual Conference for the last 5 years. In fact, we rely on his expertise so much it was difficult to tell him to leave his camera at home for today. Of course, he didn’t oblige.
Even after Kyle was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago now, he has continued to show up at all MDSC events to chronicle our work through his beautiful photography that gets at the heart of who people with Down syndrome are as individuals and who we are as a community.
He is a true champion and we can’t think of anyone more deserving or our 2014 Media Award.
About Down Syndrome
World Down Syndrome Awareness Day is celebrated annually on March 21. This date, 3/21, was chosen because Down syndrome occurs when a person has three (rather than two) copies of the 21st chromosome. One in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to more than 60 today. People with Down syndrome attend school, work; participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways.
As we have over the past nearly three decades, the MDSC continues to ensure that all individuals in Massachusetts with Down syndrome are valued, included, and given every opportunity to pursue fulfilling lives. In the early years, parents met in a living room to share information about their children, provide support for each other and strategize how to educate their families, schools and communities. More than 28 years later, the MDSC has over 3,000 members, an energetic Board of Directors, a dynamic management team, and a vision to ensure that every person with Down syndrome has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. Today, the MDSC is on the cutting edge of Down syndrome advocacy at a time when an innovative, forward-thinking vision is needed.
The MDSC offers a broad array of programs to serve people with Down syndrome and their families throughout the state, including: our signature Parent’s First Call Program, a volunteer, state-wide group of trained parent mentors available 24/7 that is a national model; two major annual conferences that draw national and international experts in their fields; a Buddy Walk® Program that gives individuals, schools, community groups, and local businesses an opportunity to get involved in fundraising campaigns and events year-round; aTeacher Partnership Network that matches educators with experience teaching students with Down syndrome with teachers who have limited or no experience; Self-Advocate Programs like Advocates in Motion and our Self-Advocate Advisory Council, which provide opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome while making empowerment a central component.