The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Valerie Mazzu
Valerie at graduation. She is well on her way to achieving great things for a great cause!
Valerie at graduation. She is well on her way to achieving great things for a great cause!
Valerie Mazzu

Valerie Mazzu was just born when her parents, family members and doctors learned that she had been diagnosed with Down syndrome. In Valerie's case she has Mosaic Down syndrome, found only in 2-4% of children diagnosed. Fifteen months into raising Valerie, mother Lisa Mazzu noticed a rash of red spots on Valerie's body. After hours of researching possibilities, the most obvious one was Leukemia. Sure enough, after an order of blood work, Lisa Mazzu came to the realization that Valerie now had to be treated with Chemotherapy to fight the disease. After her first treatment Valerie had been cleared of cancer, but doctors insisted on continuing treatment for three more rounds to prevent the possibility of a relapse. Once cleared of Leukemia, Valerie began to attend a program at "Volunteers of America" and frequently visited Dr. Judith Gardner, an early intervention specialist at The Institute of Basic Research. Upon meeting with the specialist, Lisa Mazzu questioned if her approach to handling the syndrome was too farfetched. She had asked Dr. Gardner "How much is too much? Is it bad that I want to bombard her with intervention programs?" and the response she received that she will always keep with her until this day is "It is never enough." From that point forward Valerie has continued to attend programs that provide her with the ability to overcome any hindrance the syndrome might bring, although there is not much that can stop her. As her mother stated "When my husband and I were driving her to her first day of kindergarten at P.S 60, we were amazed to see not an ounce of fear on her face; she was just fearless." Along with her eagerness to attend school, Valerie hopes to one day become a doctor, as she is always naming medical terms and defining them too! If you ask her what the heart does, she will tell you it pumps blood; if you ask her what the brain does she will tell you it thinks. As the proud mother of two stated "Although her articulation isn't perfect, when you start to understand what she is saying, she really has a typical mind. Society seems to think when a child has those abnormal facial looks, suddenly they aren't able to function in society." Despite any obstacle Valerie has faced, she continues to exceed any expectation her peers have of her, and together, with the help of her parents, will one day do great things for a great cause. To Lisa, Down syndrome has become a blessing in disguise as she has never felt closer to her daughter. She depicted just how lucky she is to have Valerie in her life when she states "I like being a part of her world. I'm glad she is the way she is. I have never met someone so loving."

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