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EXTRA CHROMOSOME: ‘The reward from raising a child with Down Syndrome is unspeakable’

October 8, 2013

Fourty-two local people participated in the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana’s Buddy Walk in support of Keyan Hunter Saturday in Fort Wayne. Team Keyan was one of the largest groups of the walk, in which more than 1,000 people participated. Pictured is Keyan (center) with his parents Shad (left) and Crystal Hunter. Members of Columbia City’s girls basketball team also participated in the walk for all local children with the condition. Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

COLUMBIA CITY — When Shad Hunter first held is son in his arms, he knew something was different.

Little did he and his wife know, their lives would be changed forever — their son, Keyan, was born with Down Syndrome.

“We had no clue,” Shad said. “My wife (Crystal) was only 31 and had a healthy lifestyle — she didn’t smoke or drink while she was pregnant.”

Three years later, Keyan is a thriving boy with Down Syndrome, and 42 people walked in support of him in Saturday’s DSANI Buddy Walk, held by the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana at Shoaff Park in Fort Wayne.

Last year, Keyan’s group was the top fundraiser in Northeast Indiana. This time, several members of Columbia City’s girls basketball team were also at the event to support all children in Whitley County with Down Syndrome. The girls basketball team donated $100 to DSANI, and also raised funds for Down Syndrome last basketball season. The girls plan to do the same this year.

Down Syndrome (Downs) is a disorder caused by an error in cell division at conception that results in an extra chromosome in a person’s DNA.

The condition leads to impairments both mentally and physically, that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities.

Some characteristics of a Down Syndrome person include: Eyes that have an upward slant, low muscle tone, short, broad neck, flat nasal bridge, protruding tongue and a large space between the large and second toe. Many struggle with speech, and fine motor skills are delayed. Some children with Down Syndrome may not walk until age four.

Shad said while raising a child with Down Syndrome has been a challenge, it has been worth it.

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