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FERRIER FILES: Celebrating success for Tennesseans with Down syndrome

Alecia Talbott and her son Ron

More than 300 people celebrated World Down Syndrome Day with a huge party at St. Henry school in Nashville.

The event highlighted the achievements of people with Down syndrome to a sell-out crowd.

People like Sophia Horvath, who is not only a cheerleader at Mount Juliet High School she was also named 'Best-All-Around' by her senior class.

“It meant everything," ” said her mom Lori Horvath. "It gave us everything."

Lori Horvath said this whole high school experience has just been incredible for Sophia.

"We always hoped she would have those normal experiences in life, and that's all we wanted for her,” said Lori Horvath. "We hoped that for her, and this is beyond words."

The entire night was a showcase for achievement filled with talented people; dancers, and karate students, and singers and essayists.

Emcee for the night was Fiona Hawks, a 37 year old woman with Down syndrome who drives a car and has lived independently for the last nine years.

“It is such an inspiration, think about it,” said Alecia Talbott, the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. “There are kids her from four months to 40 years-old. Say you are a parent and you see these achievements. It really gives you hope."

Jacob Cummings and Leyla Thomas received a special award and night on the town . The pair have been friends for five years. Thanks to the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, they are going to prom together and being treated to a limo and dinner.

“We are kindred spirits,” said Leyla Thomas. “I can’t imagine going to high school without him. He has been my best friend since the third grade.”

This is a big deal. Everyone here says friendships between kids with Down Syndrome and typical kids often fall apart, leaving the person with Down Syndrome devastated.

“These friendships are crucial,” said Talbott. “My son leaves school, rolls down the window and says goodbye to everyone by name, and they say goodbye back with great affection. I can’t tell you the value of that."

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