A local preschooler is not only melting hearts, he’s making a splash in the Big Apple to raise awareness about the impacts of having a loved one with Down syndrome.
No matter what he’s doing, 3-year-old Hudson Jones will light up a room with his sweet personality.
On Saturday, the little cutie lit up Times Square when his photo was featured in an hour-long video presentation showcasing children with Down syndrome from across the U.S.
“It feels good to be seen, for Hudson to be seen. For them to make such a big deal about celebrating kids with that extra chromosome and showing them off to the world,” said Jennifer Jones, Hudson’s mother.
The goal of the Times Square video is to promote awareness.
For Hudson’s proud family, it was the culmination of an amazing journey.
“I was not trying to have a baby. I was 43 years old. We had three teenage daughters. And we had a surprise pregnancy. And then the surprise delight of our lives,” Jones said. “He’s the best thing that has happened to our family.”
The family is gearing up to participate in their fourth Buddy Walk this October at the Sea Walk Pavilion, again to promote support and understanding. (For more information or to sign up for the Buddy Walk, click here.)
Jones credits the Buddy Walk and the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville with raising funds and changing people’s perception of what it means to have Down syndrome.
“There’s so much more that we have learned about our people with Down syndrome in just the last 20 years,” Jones said. “I mean, their life expectancy has increased, like doubled in the last 30 years just with the research.”
She said the expectations of what someone with Down syndrome can accomplish have also changed — for the better.
“They used to think that they couldn’t read, they might not be able to participate in school. And that is so not true,” Jones said. “I mean, they’re reading, they’re going to school, they’re going to college. They’re playing all the sports with all their typical peers. And it’s just huge. It’s huge.”
Jones’ message to other parents getting ready to start their own journey with Down syndrome is that it’s OK to feel uncertain.
“Once you get that little baby in your arms, just wait — it changed everything,” Jones said, fighting tears. “And all those fears, all those questions, all those worries, they just melt away. And you just fall in love.”