Before Monday night’s match-up between USC Aiken and Winston-Salem State, the Pacers basketball team joined with Upside of Downs of Aiken for Down syndrome Awareness night.
The night was put together to help benefit the support group, which was founded by USC Aiken Associate Athletic Director Tim Hall and his wife Jenny. They put a table in the lobby of the Convocation Center to receive donations.
“We are a group of parents and professionals that came together to support and educate each other and the world about Down syndrome,” Jenny Hall said. “People with Down syndrome can do the same things we all can, they just may do it a little different.”
The night began with a Buddy Walk 15 minutes before tip-off, and all in attendance were invited to join in. Prior to the players being announced, each member of the team gave out high-fives and handshakes to the group that lined the baseline.
“I thought it’d be good to have an event to raise money and awareness of Down syndrome,” said USCA student Olivia Melton, who, as a part of a class, teamed with the Halls to put on the event.
The goal of the evening was to educate the public about Down syndrome and to celebrate what individuals with Down syndrome can accomplish. Down syndrome is a genetic condition where all, or most, of the cells contain an extra copy of Chromosome 21.
Tim and Jenny have a personal relationship with the condition – their 10-year old son Jordan was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and their experience that followed led them to start the non-profit.
“When we were told he had Down syndrome, we were pretty much handed a book and told nothing else,” Jenny Hall said. “It was terrifying and we didn’t want anyone else to go through that.”
During halftime of the game, a special drawing was held for a basketball signed by the 2012-13 USCA men’s basketball team. All individuals who donated to the Upside of Downs of Aiken had a chance to win.
For more information on The Upside of Downs of Aiken, visit aikenupsidedowns.org.