PLAINFIELD — Megan and Brandon Paschal of Plainfield hosted Nolan’s Walk at Hummel Park this weekend to help educate the public about Williams Syndrome. Their youngest child, Nolan, 2 (almost 3), has been diagnosed with the syndrome and served as the grand marshal of the event.
”We had 119 register before today, but I’m expecting at least 200,” Megan Paschal said. “So many contacted us after the registration deadline.”
And she was right. More than 200 people came to the park to participate in the event. There were about a dozen children and a few adults with Williams Syndrome who took part.
”We even have one family coming from Kentucky,” Paschal said. “We think this is a really good turnout for the first time we’ve done this. The community has been very supportive. We’ve had lots of positive feedback and everyone has been so generous with things like door prizes.”
The Williams Syndrome Association began to promote Williams Syndrome Awareness Week last year, but this is the first event held in Hendricks County. There were activities and events held across the country to help promote awareness.
Williams Syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. Those with Williams have any number of medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. The problems occur along with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities, and an affinity for music.
Danielle Shockey of Fishers attended the event with her entire family, including her daughter, Alex, 6, who is a “Williams kid.”
”I know so many things are going on across the country it was nice to come and be a part of something locally,” Shockey said.
She said there are several challenged with having a Williams Syndrome child, but the worst is not knowing what the future will bring for her child.
”It’s the unknowns that are difficult,” Shockey said. “And the fact that they have no boundaries. They think everyone should be their friend and don’t understand when other kids are not accepting.”
She said their open and loving personalities are one of their greatest traits and the one that can create some issues.
”One thing we have to do all the time is educate,” Shockey said. “We have to help the educators at school to understand how to help them.”
The condition affects one in 10,000 people worldwide. There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States with Williams Syndrome. It affects both males and females.
Children with Williams Syndrome need costly and ongoing medical care, as well as early interventions such as speech or occupation therapy which may not be covered by insurance. As they grow, they may also have problems with spatial relations, numbers, and abstract reasoning.
For more information about Williams Syndrome, call the Williams Syndrome Association at (800) 806-1871 or visit the website at www.williams-syndrome.org.