First spouses across the nation joined Mary Pat Christie (First Lady of New Jersey) in hosting events to support advances in Down syndrome cognition research. Sponsored by Research Down Syndrome (RDS), the events took place on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, 2011, and included illuminating the governor’s mansion in blue. First spouses in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin all participated in the initiative.
“It is our hope that the national attention the First Spouse initiative brings to the Light The Way campaign will motivate increased support for Research Down Syndrome’s efforts to educate and increase awareness and funding for Down syndrome cognition research,” explains Bob Schoen, President of RDS. Christie announced the initiative at a First Spouse breakfast on February 28, 2011. Noting the reasons that she and other participating First Spouses have endorsed the Light the Way campaign, Mrs. Christie stated “I am inspired by initiatives which are designed to empower individuals in New Jersey and pleased that other First Spouses have joined this campaign to increase awareness about this research which brings a fresh approach to the complex issues related to the needs of those with intellectual disabilities.”
DSAIA Executive Director, Deanna Tharpe, spoke at the North Dakota event hosted by Designer Genes which included a book reading by First Lady Betsy Dalrymple. “I am honored to be a part of this celebration tonight with First Lady Dalrymple,” Tharpe told the crowd gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Bismarck. “Thanks to the First Lady, Designer Genes, and to all of you for working so hard to ‘Light the Way’.” Learn more about the events held across the nation.