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March 10, 2009     Cape Gazette
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March 10, 2009

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lJJ v Cape Gazette HEALTH'&'FITNESS ' TUESDAY, MARCH 10 - THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2009 27 SUBMITTED PHOTO COIIIEUUl PATRla( J.  from Rhode Island is shown with Den- nis and SharOnlee Diehl, who instructed members of the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action on how to present their issues to Congress. Kennedy's father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, is the co-sponsor of the Prenatally and Post.natally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act. Patrick Kennedy is a co-chairman of the congressional Down syn- drome caucus. Local residents lobby Congress for Down syndrome services Sharonlee and DermisDiehl of Rehoboth Beach went to Wash- ington, D.C., Feb. 26, to lobby Congress for improved services for people with Down syndrome. Sharonlee's brother, David Samson, was born with Down syndrome. With her husband Dennis and a group from the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, she met with legisla- tive assistants from the ottices of Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Ted Kaufman and Rep. Mike Castle. The congressional meetings were part of a larger effort by Down Syndrome Affiliates in Ac- tion to influence members of Congress from all 50 .states to ad- dress the challenges facing fami- lies affected by Down syndrOme. When Samson was born 57 years ago, he was expected to live fewer than 25 years. So little was known of his condition that well-meaning doctors recom- mended he be institutionalized. That recommendation was Corn- the changing world of Down syn- mon practice at the time. Sam- drome and allow caring families son's mother would not allow to plan for a brighter future," said that to happen. "That would Diehl. "For instance, accounts have been a tragedy," said with special tax advantages help Sharonlee Diehl. people save for college, retire= Advancements in the treat- ment and other life events, but ment of health problems have al- people with disabilities do not lowed people with Down syn- have an appropriate savings in- drome to enjoy fuller and more strument." active lives, and become more in- Dennis Diehl said current poli- tegrated in the economic and so- cy inhibits independence and cial structures of their communi- discourages working or saving ties. However, while progress . money. "It is time to begin shift- has also been made in public ing the system of long-term sup- policies that enhance the lives of port services from expensive in- individuals with Down syn- stitutional placements toa more drome, barriers still exist, mak- cost-effective system that allows ing it difficult for people to ac- families to control the resources cess adequate healthcare, hous- available for community living," ing, employment and education, he said. As the mortality rate associat- The Diehls organize the almu- ed with Down syndrome contin- al Boardwalk Buddy Walk in Re- ues to decline, life expectancy hoboth Beach. The Buddy Walk continues to increase dramati- raises awareness for people with caUy - from age 25 in 1983 to age Down syndrome, and funds 56 today. 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