Nonprofit sheds light on Down Syndrome |

Nonprofit sheds light on Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada

Melissa Campau learned of the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada (DSNNN) from a Buddy Walk advertisement on the back of a milk carton not long after receiving her daughter Jordan’s diagnosis. With the encouragement and support of family, Campau attended her first Buddy Walk a mere six days after Jordan was born. Not really knowing what to expect, Campau’s family collected information from the DSNNN, other nonprofit organizations and state agencies while her children enjoyed the activities at the event.

“The best piece of information that I received at the walk was the extension of friendship in the form of a DSNNN business card,” Campau said.

The Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada was founded in 2005 by a group of families who saw a need in the community to create a positive understanding of Down syndrome in Northern Nevada. Since its formal incorporation in 2009, the organization has shifted its focus to empowering individuals with Down syndrome and their families to create their own path to fulfillment and success in school, in the workplace and in the Northern Nevada community in general.

The DSNNN is a local organization, supported largely by individual and corporate donations, with some private foundation funding. Our Annual Buddy Walk, scheduled for Sept. 17 is the DSNNN’s most important fundraising and awareness event of the year. People with Down syndrome and their families, our many volunteers, friends and community supporters come together in celebration of Down syndrome in Northern Nevada and also take advantage of the festivities and many resources available at the walk. The event raises funds for the services offered by the DSNNN, with a portion of proceeds donated to the National Down Syndrome Society to fund research. The DSNNN seeks year-round corporate sponsorships and donations during the Buddy Walk.

Funds raised support a variety of year-round programs, bringing educational tools, support and meaningful connections to the Down syndrome community. Our programs include Family Support Group, a monthly meeting that offers educational topics chosen by network members through surveys as well as the opportunity to make friends and seek support in a safe environment; First Call, which welcomes families of newborns with Down syndrome into the network with a basket filled with up-to-date information and educational tools, along with gifts for baby; peer support in a recreational setting for siblings of children with disabilities through our Sibshops; community based activities for young adults with disabilities through Club 21; and up-to-date materials for medical professionals through Medical Outreach. Every year in June, we also offer iCan Bike Camp, a one-week program teaching 40 people with any developmental disability, 8-years-old and older, how to ride a two-wheeled bike independently. iCan Bike is special because the riders quickly develop new skills, boosting their self-esteem. No matter where our participant’s skill level lies at the end of the camp, everyone has worked hard to make strides toward independence and obtaining a goal that was once seemingly impossible.

“Whether you take advantage of DSNNN programs or participate in the Buddy Walk, the best benefit is people coming together in support of each other with the understanding that people with Down syndrome are more alike than different” said Campau.

All DSNNN programs are designed to meet a need expressed by families and individuals and seek to overcome obstacles encountered by people with Down syndrome and their families. For example, Club 21 members enjoy making new connections in the community through our monthly meetings. Quinton Queen, age 24, recently toured the SPCA to learn about how their thrift shop helps animals receive care and shelter. After the tour, he and Club 21 members volunteered their time at the SPCA thrift shop, learning skills that can help them when they enter the workforce. As Queen stocked and organized books, he said, “I like volunteering, and it will help me with job training!” Queen’s experience in Club 21 is just one of the many ways that the DSNNN supports people with Down syndrome and their personal goals.

Every dollar raised at the Buddy Walk or in other fundraising efforts makes more experiences like Campau’s and Queen’s possible. Local people with Down syndrome and their families thrive because of our community’s generosity. Whether you contribute by volunteering, donating or simply by reaching out to a neighbor with a disability, you help the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada fulfill its mission.

For more information about programs or ways to contribute, call the DSNNN at 775-828-5159 or visit our webpage at


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