DeOndra Dixon Received Birthday Surprise from her Friends

Remarkable African American Woman with Down Syndrome has Many Accomplishments


WASHINGTON (September 20, 2010) -DeOndra Dixon got a big birthday surprise.

The sister of actor/musician/comedian Jamie Foxx was in Washington, DC on September 15th to participate in a congressional reception hosted by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Following the event, Ms. Dixon, a self-advocate, who has Down syndrome, went to a local restaurant with friends and Foundation members.

Much to her surprise, after dinner the lights in the private room suddenly dimmed, and in came a huge chocolate birthday cake with candles. DeOndra flashed a vibrant smile, and blew out the candles.  Her 26th birthday is one that she will always remember.   “Thank you, thank you,” she said.  “I love cake.”

Michelle Whitten, Executive Director of the Foundation, said they were delighted to give DeOndra a special evening.

“DeOndra exemplifies what people with Down syndrome can accomplish,” Ms. Whitten said. “She is a talented young woman.  She works, she goes to school, she is a Special Olympic medalist in three sports and she has also won an award for her poetry. She is a tremendous role model for young people with Down syndrome.”

Earlier, DeOndra had participated in the tribute that Global Down Syndrome Foundation sponsored for Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI.), honoring the congressman for his work as a co-chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. DeOndra awarded Rep. Kennedy the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award in Public Service, an award named after Mr. Jones because of his unwavering support for efforts to enhance the lives of people with Down syndrome.  The Caucus has been a strong advocate for clinical research that can improve the quality of life for the more than 400,000 people in the United States with the genetic condition.

Rep. Kennedy, who is retiring this year, emotionally urged Americans to “erase the stigma” associated with Down syndrome and other conditions and disabilities.

Moreover, Ms. Whitten said that advocates are pressing for more public and private research into ways to improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.  Currently, a far larger percentage of research is aimed at providing earlier detection of the condition in pregnant women, so they can determine whether or not to end their pregnancies.

Ms. Whitten also called for more extensive research in the disparity among life expectancies for African Americans and Whites with the condition. While studies show that overall people with Down syndrome are living longer than previously, research has also found that by the age of 20 African Americans die at a rate seven times that of whites with the condition.

“This is one of the many mysteries about the condition that need to be fully explored,” Ms. Whitten said. “Our society needs the answers to questions like this so that we can continue to enhance the lives of everyone who live with this condition.”