Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville

News Room

Fleming Island boy named a Citrus king, to ride in Orlando parade

Posted: December 30, 2011 | Updated: January 2, 2012


First Coast Living - Buddy Walk® Video

Filmed October 31, 2011

Fletcher High Crowns Special Queen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cara Stieglitz was crowned homecoming queen at Fletcher High School on Wednesday night.

The 18-year-old senior, who has Down syndrome, was one of a few dozen girls nominated for homecoming queen. At halftime of Fletcher's homecoming game, 10 girls and boys waited to find out who would be crowned, and Stieglitz came out on top. Read Full Article

Challenged Children Learn To Ride Bikes

POSTED: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Read Full Article

Losing Training Wheels to Get Independence

Reported by: Dee Registre | Last Update: 7/20 7:25 pm | Read Full Article


Ander Crenshaw visits DSAJ

The plan would amend the IRS Code to allow tax-free accounts.

By JEANINE deBOER, My Southside Sun

With the economy slowing and the cost of necessities rising, many parents are making cutbacks in their households and searching for new ways to save for their futures and their children's.

But what if saving money for one of your children could actually mean a penalty that would cost you money in the long run?

Many people may be unaware that is a very real problem that parents of children with disabilities face every day.

Take, for example, Charlotte Temple, mother of two daughters, one of whom has Down syndrome. Her girls, at 15 and 16, are preparing to enter the working world. Except that one of them won't be able to save for her retirement without extreme limitations.

"The way things stand right now, if my daughter works somewhere that offers a retirement plan that allows the employees to withdraw money in any way and she saves more than $2,000, she will lose her disability benefits," Temple said.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, a member of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, recently met with representatives of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville to discuss legislation he's authored that would help provide equal savings opportunities to families with disabled children.

"The federal government helps people save for retirement, it helps people save for a college education, but there's no way to save to take care of a disabled person," he said.

Having friends with children who have disabilities, and a close friend with Down syndrome, Crenshaw said he feels it is his duty to do something to change the current savings status to help provide disabled people and their families with the flexibility to save for unforeseeable expenses.

Crenshaw said the legislation, called the Financial Security Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Act, proposes to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and allow for the creation of accounts in which after-tax contributions could grow tax-free – similar to 529 college savings plans or retirement plans. Those dollars could then be used to take care of a person who is disabled.

These accounts would have a lifetime cap of $500,000, but any family member or friend of eligible families could contribute.

Crenshaw was joined by several members of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, who asked questions and shared their personal struggles from not having these equal savings opportunities.

Moira Rossi, 20, and Kelsy Adams, 20, are learning to live independently with the help of the University of North Florida's Arc Jacksonville Academy on Campus Transition Program. They are attending college and living in apartments near UNF, and each boasted about having a boyfriend.

They agreed that being on their own is teaching them how important it is to set money aside for unexpected expenses.

Angela Parris, parent of a 6-year-old son with Down syndrome, also attended the meeting. Although her son is still young, she said, she's already had to tell her child's grandparents that they wouldn't be able to open up a trust fund to pay for her son's college as they had done for all of their other grandchildren.

"I got a little choked up when I realized how much something like this [the legislation] would actually help me and my family," she said.