Local 4-year-old to be featured on Times Square jumbotron for Down Syndrome Awareness Month
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Once you get her started, there’s nothing stopping 4-year-old Emma Helton from speaking her mind or dancing to the beat of her own life.
“She’s come a long way since we found out almost five years ago,” said Ronda Helton, Emma’s mother.
At age 44, Helton learned Emma would be born with Down Syndrome. The O’Fallon, Missouri family had to prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.
“Obviously at that age, you might have some concerns and we did,” said Helton. “But we started our doctors’ appointments early and he informed us that our chances of having a child with down syndrome are very high...approximately one in 15.”
Emma would also be born with a heart defect, a common condition in children with Down Syndrome.
“It was very numbing, but you know we had a great support system all around between our friends and family and medical team,” said Helton. “I think that’s one of the reasons we got through it as well as we did...not that we don’t have bad days because everybody does. Sometimes it’s just a little more challenging.”
Those challenges were put to a new test for both Emma and her family last winter.
“It was the week of Christmas and our son had tested positive,” said Helton.
Shortly after, Emma would also test positive for COVD-19. Doctors at SSM Cardinal Glennon quickly recommended she receive a monoclonal antibody infusion therapy treatment to prevent her from ending up hospitalized and on a ventilator.
“I think that was the one thing that scared me,” said Helton. “After the antibodies I’d say within 24 to 36 hours, she was back to her old self again.”
Emma’s strength, recognized by her family, is now being celebrated on a national scale.
“It’s just a beautiful tribute in celebrating the journey that we have with Down Syndrome,” said Helton.
This Saturday Emma will be featured on New York City’s Times Square jumbotron in the National Down Syndrome Society’s Kickoff to Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. Helton submitted her daughter after being featured last year, not expecting to get the honor once again. This year, she was one of 500 children to be featured from across the country.
“There was about 2,500 applicants,” said Helton.
Helton says the chance to watch Emma represent the St. Louis metro community is an especially unique honor.
“You’re kind of like in disbelief, my child is going to be on the jumbotron,” she said.
It is a display Helton hopes will defy what perfection should be or look like and recognize all children in the community who are just like Emma.
“Celebrating the beauty within whatever you have, it is a blessing,” said Helton. “She’s truly a miracle, there’s no question, and she definitely keeps us on our toes.”
Emma will be featured during Saturday’s video on the Times Square Jumbotron between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. eastern time above the Dos Caminos restaurant on 1567 Broadway in New York City. The video will also be live streamed on the NDSS Facebook Page.
A link to her fundraising page can be found here.
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