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Third-grader chosen to be a face of Down's Syndrome awareness

Alec Allwood's Times Square image will be 40 feet tall.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, Times Staff Writer
Published September 30, 2007


ST. PETE BEACH- Today, visitors to New York City's Times Square will see 8-year-old Alec Allwood's photograph on a 40-foot screen.

Alec's picture will be one of 215 shown during a video for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

The third-grader at Maximo Elementary School and his family flew to New York on Thursday to see the presentation and participate in one of many national fundraising events taking place during the next few weeks.

Alec's photograph was selected from among 2,000 sent to the National Down Syndrome Society this year, spokeswoman Sarah Schleider said. "We wanted to really highlight and show all the abilities that someone with Down syndrome is really capable of. We request photos of babies, children, teens and adults participating in various activities," Schleider said.

Alec's mother, Janice Allwood, submitted a photograph of Alec kissing a dolphin at Discovery Cove in Orlando. Four weeks ago, she learned that the picture had been selected to be shown on the NBC screen in Times Square.

"I was so excited and I can't stop sharing it with everyone and telling everyone I know. And Alec is old enough so that he knows. All of his teachers know and his friends, his therapists. We are trying to let everybody know," said Allwood, a nurse practitioner and St. Pete Beach resident.

While in New York, Alec, his mother, father, Jorge, and brother, Andres, will also participate in the National Down Syndrome Society's Buddy Walk in Central Park. Close to 4,000 participants are expected.

Similar walks are taking place around the country in October. The Tampa Bay Buddy Walk will be held on Oct. 13 in Largo.

The Times Square video, which will run from 10:30 to 11 a.m., and the walks nationwide are designed to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down's syndrome and raise money for research and other programs.

Alec's mother said he likes to play basketball, soccer and video games.

"He loves riding his bike around. He likes to draw and he's learning to read and he enjoys it and loves movies," she said.

"I know that he will have limitations, but I don't want his limitations to be caused by us. I just want him to have every opportunity to be the best he can be, in whatever he wants to do."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or 727 892-2283.

Fast Facts

One in every 800 to 1,000 babies is born with Down syndrome.

More than 350,000 people with Down syndrome in the United States.

Source: National Down Syndrome Society or 800-221-4602.

If You Go

Tampa Bay Area Buddy Walk

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13. One-mile walk around Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. Followed by games, entertainment, food and prizes. Go to Contact Shirley Lawyer, 727-462-2274 or

[Last modified September 30, 2007, 01:32:19]

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