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Awareness Calendar
Do you know of a worthy cause we should feature, send link and short description to:

Click on the month for detailed information on the causes.


Birth Defects Prevention

Cataract Awareness

Cervical Cancer Awareness

Glaucoma Awareness

Volunteer Blood Donors

Thyroid Awareness

Healthy Weight Awareness

Folic Acid Awareness


National Wear Red Day

Organ Donor Day

Burn Awareness Week

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

American Heart Month

Wise Health Consumer Month

Children's Dental Health Month

National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week


American Diabetes Alert Day

National Kidney Month

National MS Month

American Red Cross Month

YMCA Healthy Kids Day

Save Your Vision Week

Mental Retardation Month

National Patient Safety Awareness Week

National Poison Prevention Week

World Tuberculosis Day


Earth Day

National Volunteer Week

World Health Day

National Autism Awareness Month

Cancer Control Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Sexually Transmitted Disease Month

Foot Health Month


MDA-ALS Awareness

Lupus Awareness

Food Allergy Awareness Week

Women's Health Week

Buckle Up America Week

World No Tobacco Day

National Arthritis Month

Stroke Awareness Month

High Blood Pressure Month

Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

Sight Saving Month


Dystonia Awareness Week

National Headache Awareness Week

Career Nurse Assistants Day

National Men's Health Week

Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week

HIV Testing Day

Vision Research Month

Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

National Aphasia Awareness Month

National Scleroderma Awareness Month

Causes That Inspire

Chris Burke: Acting on his Conviction for Down Syndrome

Chris Burke and John C. McGinelyIt's not unusual for actors to lend their celebrity and visibility to causes that have personally affected them. If a charitable organization is lucky, they might attract a particularly familiar and appealing celebrity spokesman. It never hurts if the famous actor starred on a much-loved television series and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) did more than attract a talented and highly regarded actor. They were fortunate enough to find favor with a Hollywood personality who is a living example of everything they're hoping individuals with Down syndrome will achieve. Namely, lives full of promise, opportunity and fulfillment.

Chris Burke, Golden Globe nominated star of ABC Television's popular family drama, “Life Goes On,” has spent more than a decade promoting the Down syndrome cause for NDSS. Burke just so happens to have been born with an extra Chromosome 21 and deals with his Down syndrome on a daily basis.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition resulting in varying degrees of physical characteristics and developmental delays. In addition, individuals with Down syndrome sometimes experience a higher frequency of certain health problems. These include Congenital heart defects, increased susceptibility to infection, respiratory problems, and obstructed digestive tracts.

At his birth, Chris Burke's parents were advised to institutionalize him. This is the kind of advice and mentality that NDSS has tirelessly fought to overcome. Thankfully for Burke, the doctor's advice was not followed. He graduated from Don Guanella School in Springfield , Pennsylvania in 1985.

As education about Down syndrome has improved, early intervention programs and educational opportunities have improved the lives of children, teens and adults with the condition. Burke's acting accomplishments include a semi-regular role on CBS Television's “Touched by an Angel.” He continues to act with appearances on “The Commish,” a role in “Jonathan, The Boy Nobody Wanted,” and the ABC mini-series “Heaven and Hell.” Burke is best remembered as Corky Thatcher on “Life Goes On.”

Chris Burke's visibility extends beyond Hollywood 's small screen. He published his autobiography, “A Special Kind of Hero,” in 1992 and has filmed public service announcements with President Bush and Tracy Ullman. Burke was also invited to march in President Clinton's inaugural parade. His list of awards includes a Christopher Award and a Youth in Film Award. He was honored in his hometown, New York City , by having a NYC Public School named after him.

In addition to his Hollywood celebrity status, Burke serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society. He does more than lend his name and face to their cause. Burke serves as editor-in-chief of their quarterly magazine written by and for people with Down syndrome. The magazine, formerly called “News & Views” has just undergone a complete redesign and been given the highly appropriate name UpBeat Magazine. The premiere issue was published in July.

NDSS' UpBeat Magazine accepts submissions about a wide variety of subjects from individuals with Down syndrome. Burke maintains a hands-on approach to the look and content of the magazine. In an interview for The Family Connection and The Osmond Network LLC, Dr. Beth Milligan says, “Chris is my friend.” She supports his efforts with the NDSS and adds, “It is truly important that society develop attitudes that will permit people with Down syndrome to participate in life to the fullest and be accepted as human beings.” She goes on to say, “If you have the chance to meet someone like Chris, please get to know them and you too will gain a new friend.”

In addition to UpBeat Magazine, the NDSS maintains a website for individuals with Down syndrome. “Club NDSS” is the name and “learning, playing and connecting,” is the aim at this online resource. It's fun, informative and…it's UpBeat! Visitors are encouraged to connect with each other and the community at large. They're entertained, informed and inspired by a wide range of content that's easy to navigate.

The main NDSS website features “Information” and “Resources” sections that include content on health, development, education and life planning. Individuals touched by a family member, friend, neighbor or classmate with Down syndrome will find that the NDSS offers insight and hope for the future.

NDSS' websites are places to spend meaningful time, either alone or with a loved one. Visitors will find articles and information about Down syndrome and wonderful stories of accomplishment and acceptance from across the country and around the world.

-- Fundraisers Staff Writer

Photos and images appear courtesy of the National Down Syndrome Society. The mission of NDSS is to benefit people with Down Syndrome and their families through national leadership in education, research and advocacy. For more information call (800) 221-4602.

For more information visit

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Awareness Calendar
Do you know of a worthy cause we should feature, send link and short description to:

Click on the month for detailed information on the causes.


National Therapeutic Recreation Week

International Massage Week

Eye Injury Prevention Month

Light the Night for Sight

International Group B Strep Awareness Month


National Minority Donor Awareness Day

America's Night Out Against Crime

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Month

Psoriasis Awareness Month

Amblyopia Awareness Month


Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Suicide Awareness Week

STOP a Suicide Today

Alcohol Awareness Month

National Women's Health and Fitness Day

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

National Cholesterol Education Month

National Menopause Awareness Month

National Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week


Breast Cancer Awareness

World Food Day

Domestic Violence Awareness

Healthy Lung Month

National Dental Hygiene

Down Syndrome Awareness

School Lunch Week


Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

American Diabetes Awareness Month

National Alzheimers Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

National Adoption Awareness Month

National Family Caregivers Month


World Aids Day

World Health Organization


Elton John Aids Foundation

Ryan White Emergency Act

Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Safe Toys & Gifts Awareness Month

Bone Marrow Disease Awareness Week

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