Rock Your Socks Mismatch Party draws big volunteer response

GEORGETOWN – Compared to 2018, this year’s Rock Your Socks Mismatch Party in Sussex County was a literal mismatch.

About 350 volunteers — many of them students in school and athletic organizations from across Sussex County — paired off in groups at Sussex Technical High School Saturday where they sorted and mismatched 17,000 pairs of socks in a preparatory prelude to the March 21 observance of World Down Syndrome Day.

“I am blown away,” said Vanessa Adams Cannon, mother of a child with Down Syndrome, her 8-year-old daughter Avary.

“Last year we had five tables of volunteers. This year the entire cafeteria was filled. Last year we did 7,000 pairs of socks. This year we did 17,000. I always like to say many hands make light work,” said Ms. Cannon, who is Sussex County’s board of directors connection to the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware.

For the second year, Avary’s older sister, Adrianna Cannon, a junior at Sussex Tech, spearheaded the effort for the Rock Your Socks Mismatch Party at her school.

“I am amazed. I can’t believe so many people came out and helped me accomplish one of my dreams,” said Adrianna. “It is just amazing.”

“We had volunteers from as far away as Berlin, Maryland and Elkton, Maryland and everywhere in between,” Ms. Cannon said. “The response for Sussex County has been overwhelming. It does my heart good as a mom to know that the community is so excited to share in the celebration of Down Syndrome.”

March 21 is recognized annually as World Down Syndrome Day, which promotes awareness, inclusion and celebrates all things wonderful about people with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder usually associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features.

It’s that date on the calendar for a specific 3-21 reason.

“The ‘3’ represents the third copy of the 21st chromosome that every individual with Down Syndrome is born with,” Ms. Cannon said.

Mismatched socks sold for $1 pair. Boxes filled to the gills with socks left Sussex Tech, bound for numerous schools.

On World Down Syndrome Day, thousands of individuals, many of them school students, will wear mismatched socks to school in a celebratory Rock Your Socks show of unity.

“What we like to say is you are more like than different. It’s kind of our whole philosophy,” said Ms. Cannon. “Everyone has unique qualities. Just like the socks. If they are a same colored sock, a short sock or a tall sock they kind of serve the same purpose. They might do it in a unique way. We try to celebrate all diversities and all abilities.”

The main purpose of mismatched socks is to spur conversation. “We just want it to be a conversation starter for some of the older kids to say, ‘We’re celebrating Down Syndrome and we’re here for inclusion purposes and awareness,” Ms. Cannon said.

“To be a parent it is overwhelming to see so many people wanting to celebrate with us,” said Ms. Cannon, who resides in the Seaford School District. “If you asked me eight years ago what I thought Avary’s life would be like, I probably would have had to take a pause. There has been research, but no way would I have ever thought that she would be doing as well as she is doing, that she has the support system that she needs and that the teachers are there to support her and there to celebrate her.”

The Down Syndrome Association can serve as a big support system.

“We may not know each other on a face-to-face basis but I can tell you if there is a mother who needs some advice or there is a child that is celebrating a milestone you are going to see 20, 30 sometimes 100 responses of congratulations,” said Ms. Cannon. “We want to change the misconception of what Down Syndrome was. We don’t want anybody to be sad that there is a diagnosis. We want you to realize that the sky the is limit, as long as you set your expectations high.”

Information

For more information, visit the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware website at www.dsadelaware.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/DSAofDelaware/

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