All across the nation, people are celebrating World Down Syndrome Day.
It is the most prevalent human chromosomal condition. National statistics show one in about 700 babies in the U.S. are born with Down syndrome. To heelp raise awareness and money, the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin is putting on an event at Chuck E. Cheese in La Crosse Friday night.
One La Crosse mom said World Down Syndrome Day is better than Christmas because her 3-year-old daughter Eliza makes the world a better place.
"I was actually told that I wouldn't be able to have children,” said Jenny Levendoski, Eliza’s mom.
She always knew she would be a mom.
"Whether they would be biological or not was kind of the issue,” said Levendoski.
About six months after the doctors told her she couldn't have kids, she found out she was pregnant.
Twelve weeks into her pregnancy, she found out Eliza would have Down syndrome.
"I didn't know too much about Down syndrome. It was something that other people had and other people experience but I didn't know anything about it,” said Levendoski.
Levendoski admits she was afraid of the unknown.
"Once I started researching it, I took a deep breath and said, "I can do this,” said Levendoski.
She started reading books and preparing for a life with Eliza. However, all of that was halted when she found out Eliza had hydrops fetalis.
"With that, she was basically supposed to pass away in the womb. She was essentially going to be drowned,” said Levendoski.
She started visiting the doctor every two to three weeks to check on Eliza.
“Weeks went by and every time we would still have a heartbeat. We would still see her on the ultrasound moving so we just kept going every two weeks,” said Levendoski.
Against all odds. Eliza Levendoski was born on Sept 22, 2010.
"Since then it's been a whirlwind of learning what to do with a child with Down syndrome,” said Levendoski.
Levendoski said Eliza is developing just like every other child. She loves to read, play with blocks and is extremely curious. However, she has to work a little harder on communication.
“She does get extra therapy to learn how to do the things that come naturally to a lot of us,” said Levendoski. "I know Eliza makes the same milestones that everybody else does, it just takes her a little longer to get there."
Levendoski said Eliza can take all the time in the world because she makes it a better place.
“So have patience, have understanding and our society is a better place with people with down syndrome in it,” said Levendoski.
Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the event at Chuck E. Cheese Friday night will go toward funding programs, such as speech therapy.
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21 every year because people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two.