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Koloa girl with Down syndrome gets national exposure

KOLOA — Katrina Martinez was totally thrilled to learn her daughter Ella Martinez’s photo was selected to be part of a National Down Syndrome Society Times Square video presentation on Sept. 17.

The thrill of learning her daughter would be seen on the big television screens in Times Square was only doubled by the fact Ella would be part of a Down syndrome awareness campaign, with September being is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

The NDSS informed the Koloa family that Ella Martinez will appear in the bright lights of Broadway on Sept. 17 as part of the annual National Down Syndrome Society video presentation, a one-hour video of approximately 500 photographs of children, teens, and adults with Down syndrome from all 50 states.

The images are designed to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in a very visible way. Ella’s photo taken by Alice Photography hits this point of the little girl who grew up in the world of Kaua‘i farmers’ markets and special crafting pop-ups as Katrina’s sidekick on Katrina’s rounds as the market manager and monitor.

Down syndrome is described by online sources as a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. The disorder causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability, developmental delays, and possibly be associated with thyroid or heart disease.

The NDSS is the leading human-rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, and envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities.

Ella’s photo was chosen from more than 2,400 entries the NDSS global call for photos. For her honor of being selected, the photo will appear on two JumboTron screens in the heart of Times Square, thanks to the support of ClearChannel Outdoor. The two screens are located above Dos Caminos restaurants in Father Duffy Square, and the presentations will be live-streamed on the NDSS Facebook page from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sept. 17.

The NDSS video presentation will be followed by the New York City Buddy Walk in Central Park, where the flagship Buddy Walk has taken place since 1995 as part of the National Buddy Walk Program.

While there are not any Buddy Walks scheduled for Hawai‘i, more information and support for Down syndrome individuals and families can be found at Down Syndrome of Hawai‘i (


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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