Ocean City Moms Run for Kids With Down Syndrome

first_imgThe team members scaled the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and enjoyed a triumphant “Rocky” moment.Melissa and Jen are certainly on their way. The women and their teammates were warmly received in the towns and rolling countryside areas and cities like Baltimore, Wilmington and Princeton, in addition to Philly and New York.Once they reached the Big Apple, the group received word they would have a chance to appear on the “Today” show and achieve national publicity. Husbands Tony Polcini and Jeff Flink traveled with Michael and Judah to be a part of the moment.The Polcinis have another son, 11-year-old J.D., and the Flinks have three other boys, Levi, 7, Gideon, 5, and Ezra, 3.While the magnitude of the relay was “overwhelming at times,” Polcini said, one moment summed it all up for her running partner. Ocean City showed its support for Jen and Melissa in a variety of ways, but none more visible than lighting up the Ninth Street Causeway Bridge with the blue and yellow colors of the Down Syndrome Society. “It can be scary as the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, to worry about what the future might hold for them,” Melissa related.Those feelings melted away when she saw a father hugging his son with Down Syndrome who is in his 30s.“It was such a tender moment,” she said, tearing up as she re-told the story. “The love that man showed his son, and how well (the son) was doing told me that, hey, maybe it doesn’t have to be so scary.”The relay is over for this year, but community members still have the opportunity to contribute. Please visit the Facebook page “Melissa and Jen take on 3.21” to view their videos, learn more about Down Syndrome and, most importantly, join the movement.Jen Polcini, left, and Melissa Flink with sons Michael (holding balloons) and Judah. By Tim KellyThere were many highlights of Jen Polcini’s and Melissa Flink’s participation in a 48-hour, 250-plus mile relay run to raise Down Syndrome awareness: running through the streets of the nation’s capital, bounding the famous Art Museum steps in Philadelphia and appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, just to name a few.The biggest highlight may have been the advancement of an idea.“Everyone has value and their own special gifts,” Polcini said, “and we all need to recognize that each person belongs in the big picture and makes a contribution. No one should be excluded.”Polcini and Flink, both of Ocean City, are the mothers of Michael, 7 and Judah, 10, respectively, who have Down Syndrome. The women were members of a 21-person team that ran continuously as part of the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Run for 3.21” relay.In addition to getting the word out, Polcini and Flink raised funds for the organization’s many advocacy, educational and support activities for people living with Down Syndrome and the families who sacrifice to give their loved ones the best life possible.The “Run for 3.21” name refers to the date of February 21, World Down Syndrome Day.  The numbers have the additional significance: Down Syndrome occurs in individuals born with an extra 21st chromosome.Jen Polcini and Melissa Flink were part of a team of relay runners that completed a run for Down Syndrome awareness from Washington D.C., to New York City earlier this week. The group is shown at the start of the 48-hour trek. (Photos courtesy of Jen Polcini and Melissa Flink)The women put together humorous promotional videos that had a theme from the film “Forrest Gump.” Melissa posted them on social media, and before you could say “Life is like a box of chocolates” their goal to raise $6,000 had more than doubled. “We were brainstorming a bunch of fundraising ideas, but everything just seemed to come together,” Melissa said. “The community was very supportive of what we were trying to do.”Another video, using actual scenes from the movie, showing lessons about inclusion, was shown in the Ocean City public schools, where Michael is a first grader and Judah is in fourth grade. The city illuminated the Ninth Street Causeway Bridge in the group’s yellow and blue colors in honor of the 3/21 theme on Thursday.The pair’s relay adventure began on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building 6 a.m. on Tuesday and climaxed at the United Nations Headquarters building on Thursday.  Along the way there were sore muscles, lack of sleep, cramped conditions in the support vans carrying the team, and some dicey neighborhoods. Those were shrugged off, Flink said, because minor hardships couldn’t compare to the excitement and satisfaction of achieving their goals.“It (awareness of Down Syndrome) needs to be a movement,” she said. “We are making progress, but there is still so far to go. People need to come together so that people with Down syndrome are included in their communities, in their schools, in sports and other activities.”  Jen Polcini, left, and Melissa Flink are raising money and awareness for people with Down Syndrome, including their sons. (Photo courtesy of Facebook page “Melissa and Jen take on 3.21”)last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*