The Corner

“God Blessed You With a Very Special Package”

John McGinley, who plays Dr. Cox on Scrubs was on CNN today talking about his son, who has Down Syndrome. He had some neat things to say:

HARRIS: Any part of that surprise you?

MCGINLEY: No, it’s nice to be riding their coat tails for one more year. It’s fantastic to follow a winner like that.

LEON HARRIS: …

But I’ve got to talk to you, first of all, about the Buddy Walks. You’re going to be participating in an awareness program that has basically been very successful since 1995. How long have you been involved with these Buddy Walks?

MCGINLEY: A couple of years ago, my son, Max, who is six now, was born with Down syndrome. When some of his challenges cleared up, I got involved with the National Down Syndrome Society. One thing we’ve done together is the Buddy Walk which is a day of empowerment, inclusion, and advocacy for children with special needs, primarily children with Down syndrome.

And we have 185 walks every year. Almost 220,000 people are going to come out and walk with us. We’re going to have one in New York on the 18th up in Central Park. And we just couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s just a thrilling day of love and inclusion.

And look, when you have a child who was born with special needs, it’s very confusing and disconcerting and you really don’t know which end is up and you feel like you’re from Mars and you did something wrong. It turns out that God blessed you with a really special package. And how to take care of that child is the real challenge.

And at the National Down Syndrome Society, there’s a fantastic Web site to go to, an unbelievable resource, called www.BuddyWalk.org. And there’s so much information there that I can’t encourage parents of children with special needs enough to check in there.

HARRIS: Good deal. I want to make sure we mention that Web site one more time before we get out of here.

How many other cities are having these walks?

MCGINLEY: We have 185 throughout the year. And October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And so it’s just a great initiative to raise money for local education programs, and advocacy groups for children with Down syndrome.

HARRIS: You know, don’t you think, though, a lot — well, you tell me. How much progress do you think has been made in raising awareness about it since 1995? We’re seeing characters on television shows. You notice it happens now, people don’t react. People don’t really freak out when they see that sort of thing.

MCGINLEY: No, absolutely. Look, the progress that’s been made for all people with special needs and challenges is just profound. And children with Down syndrome are — you’ve got to remember, when you and I were growing up, their life expectancy of a child with these challenges was about 25 because they were institutionalized immediately.

And now they find love and an inclusion in a community and society that’s encouraging them and trying to elevate them to be whatever they want. And are able to be.

HARRIS: Well, listen…

MCGINLEY: What an amazing thing to be able to say about children with those kind of challenges.

HARRIS: Amen, brother. You’re right about that. I agree with you 100 percent.

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