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updated: 8/7/2012 8:38 AM

Down syndrome group steps up to plate for Relay event at Boomers Stadium

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  • Kelsey Nolan of Elk Grove Village, Allie Reninger of Schaumburg, Danny Orlando of Bartlett, Julia Neri of Schaumburg and Alana Herr of Arlington Heights pose for a photo at the UPS for DownS car wash fundraiser to support the American Cancer Society.

      Kelsey Nolan of Elk Grove Village, Allie Reninger of Schaumburg, Danny Orlando of Bartlett, Julia Neri of Schaumburg and Alana Herr of Arlington Heights pose for a photo at the UPS for DownS car wash fundraiser to support the American Cancer Society.
    Photo courtesy of UPS for DownS

  • Katy Garcia and Allie Reninger are part of the UPS for DownS effort to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

      Katy Garcia and Allie Reninger are part of the UPS for DownS effort to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
    Photo courtesy of UPS for DownS

  • On Tuesday, UPS for DownS members worked as servers at a pasta fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Riccardo's Ristorante in Schaumburg.

      On Tuesday, UPS for DownS members worked as servers at a pasta fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Riccardo's Ristorante in Schaumburg.
    Photo courtesy of UPS for DownS

 

One of the last Relay For Life events of the summer takes place Saturday at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg.

According to the American Cancer Society, it is one of the biggest in the Northwest suburbs -- and among the top 25 in the state -- with 76 teams made up of 500 participants registered.

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One of the newest teams to step up to the plate calls itself, "Taking Cancer DOWN." It is made up primarily of young adults with Down syndrome, who all are members of UPS for DownS in Schaumburg.

The 20 members have ambitiously set out to raise $1,000 for the cause, and they look to be well on their way. On Saturday, they held a car wash that drew 50 cars and raised $700 and they're not done yet.

They followed that event with a pasta fundraiser on Tuesday at Riccardo's Ristorante in Schaumburg, where team members worked the event as servers and sold awareness jewelry they had made.

Team members come from Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Roselle and St. Charles.

Lisa Reninger of Schaumburg and Kim Orlando of Bartlett are coordinating the team's efforts. Both are parents of children with Down syndrome, and Orlando is a cancer survivor.

"We just think it's so cool what these kids are doing," Orlando says.

Nearly every team member can point to a loved one who has been touched by cancer, but they also point to this statistic: Persons with Down syndrome are as much as 30 percent more likely to contract leukemia than the at-large population.

"The kids get it," Reninger says. "They are doing this with a purpose."

The group is coming off volunteering at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon last month, where they manned the first water station.

They will be working another water station in October for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, while cheering on their own group of runners, the Angel Endurance Team.

"Supporting the community is one of our three core values," Reninger adds. "It's what UPS for DownS stands for."

Specifically, UPS for DownS is an acronym that stands for United Parent Support for Down syndrome.

It is a parent-directed, nonprofit organization offering support, education and encouragement for parents and families of persons with Down syndrome. Its members strive to inspire community acceptance by sharing the potential and abilities of people with Down syndrome.

Participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life event this weekend is a good example.

"Our most important message is that people with disabilities are not always recipients of charity," Reninger says, "but also are able to give back."

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