The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
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The Great Eight Miles
The Great Eight Miles

Many of us like to swim, especially on a warm summer day at the beach, in an outdoor pool, or at a beautiful lake. Some people swim for fun and recreation, others swim for exercise, and there are others who swim for competition or sports. This story is about someone who swims for awareness about Down syndrome. To celebrate National Down Syndrome Awareness Month this year on October 8, 2009, Karen Gaffney will complete the GREAT EIGHT MILE SWIM in Boston Harbor to promote the acceptance and inclusion of all people with Down syndrome. An accomplished swimmer, Karen Gaffney is the first person with Down syndrome to complete a relay swim across the English Channel. Now 31 years of age, Karen has challenged herself with a string of "firsts," completing seven swims across San Francisco Bay - including the popular "Escape from Alcatraz" relay triathlon. In September 2007, she successfully navigated a nine-mile swim across Lake Tahoe and became the focus of a DVD documentary, Crossing Tahoe: A Swimmer's Dream. This year, Karen will tackle Boston Harbor, leaving from Little Brewster's Island on the outer edge of Boston Harbor and swimming for four to five hours in the cool fall weather until she reaches the L Street Bathhouse area in South Boston. Family, friends and self-advocates from the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) will be there to greet Karen as she completes her swim. You can support Karen Gaffney and National Down Syndrome Awareness Month by making a donation to Karen's swim at On October 11, 2009, Karen will be our honored guest at the MDSC Buddy Walk® and Family Picnic where 2,000 people are expected to greet and congratulate Karen for her accomplishments. To join the MDSC Buddy Walk®, you can sign up at Karen's determination, hard work, and advocacy on behalf of all people with Down syndrome is what makes her story and her upcoming GREAT EIGHT MILE SWIM so compelling.

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