By MERI KENNEDY Joined by roughly 30 other participants, Stephen and Pasqualina Feole took to the track at Cranston High School West this past Saturday for World Down Syndrome Day. The Feoles' son, 7-year-old Vincenzo, was born with Down syndrome.
Joined by roughly 30 other participants, Stephen and Pasqualina Feole took to the track at Cranston High School West this past Saturday for World Down Syndrome Day.
The Feoles’ son, 7-year-old Vincenzo, was born with Down syndrome. Stephen now serves as a board member of the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island.
“We had no idea what that would mean for him or our family,” Pasqualina recalls of Vincenzo’s diagnosis. “Although he had a rough start to the world, he came out a fighter. He overcame so many obstacles when he was born and defied so many odds medically. He is our miracle child. Vincenzo is 7 now and he still fights, mostly with his big brother Antonio, age 8, whom he loves more than anything or anyone.”
“When Vincenzo was a year old, we called the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island to ask a question about schooling and that’s how we got involved with the organization,” Stephen said.
The family was told about the Buddy Walk, an initiative of the National Down Syndrome Society focused on raising awareness of the genetic disorder. They decided that it was definitely something in which they wanted to participate.
“So, we started Vincenzo’s Buddies and we’ve been walking for the past six years,” Stephen said.
They started the team with family members and close friends, and everyone was excited to join up in support of Vincenzo. Since this year’s Buddy Walk went virtual, the family walked in small groups of people and the entire DSSRI, as part of the National Society event, raised more than $30,000 in Rhode Island.
“Through DSSRI, we’ve been lucky enough to meet so many wonderful families,” Stephen said. “We see all the great things that these families are doing for their beautiful children, both young and old. We see the support they provide to their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandsons, granddaughters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.”
He continued: “It amazes us to see the accomplishments that these great people make. Things may be a bit harder for them and it may take a little longer for them to learn something, but they will do it.”
“We see it every day with Vincenzo,” Pasqualina added. “He may not get something right away, but he does not give up until he accomplishes what he has set his mind to.”
The Feole family provided pizza and desserts and water for the participants. The money raised will go to support research and provide gift cards for Down syndrome families in need. 1