making Down syndrome the most common chromosomal condition.

One in every 758 live born babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome,

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. 

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent.

What is Down Syndrome?

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Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.

People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends, and the community enable people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

From the National Down Syndrome Society.

Facts About
Down Syndrome

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky has been helping and supporting families since 1993, when a small group of parents envisioned better opportunities for their children with Down syndrome. Today, that vision and our organization have expanded, enabling us to provide numerous programs and services.

Learn more about The Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky 

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky exists to celebrate our Down syndrome community, support individuals with Down syndrome and their families in our region, and educate ourselves and others about the true joys and challenges of Down syndrome.

Our Mission

We envision communities where people with Down syndrome are valued and included throughout their lives.

Our Vision

We support and educate families and professionals in Central and Eastern Kentucky. We do this through: providing customized presentations for parents, teachers, therapists, and medical professionals; publishing a quarterly magazine that celebrates accomplishments of individuals with Down syndrome and provides pertinent information for families and caregivers; providing peer presentations to schools, post-graduate and undergraduate classes, and the community about acceptance of those with Down syndrome and other disabilities; and hosting several celebrations throughout the year to bring together families and friends for support and advocacy. 

Our Impact

Executive Director

In 1997, I thought my world had turned upside down. Turns out, it had actually turned right side up! My husband and I have five children; our fourth child, Emily Faith, was born with Down syndrome. Due to Emily’s significant medical needs, we felt it best for me to put my career on hold for the foreseeable future to care for her and our other children. Up until this time, I had had no exposure to anyone with Down syndrome or major medical needs. It was a time of uncertainty and tremendous stress. Due to her heart condition, we could not take Emily out in public and there was no home internet at the time. It was a very isolating time, as I truly thought Emily was the only person with Down syndrome in our area. 

When Emily was almost three, her then speech-language pathologist asked if we were involved with the local Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky. I quickly became involved and volunteered in several different capacities, becoming the Executive Director in 2014. My passion for DSACK stems from those days of isolation and fear for Emily’s future. That passion drives me to ensure no family feels alone, that we become a community to support one another, educate others, and celebrate every victory together.  
It is my great joy and honor to be invited to speak regularly at universities, elementary, middle and high schools, churches, and other community organizations on topics related to Down syndrome and inclusion. In addition to my work with DSACK, I serve on the UK Human Development Institute’s Kentucky Works Project, UK Sanders Brown Alzheimer’s Research Advisory Council, and the Department of Medicaid Services PDS Advisory Subpanel.

Traci Brewer

Medical and Community Outreach Coordinator

I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Bellarmine University, where I also played soccer for the Bellarmine Lady Knights. During college, I was awarded a full scholarship to study abroad as an English-Speaking Union Scholar at the University of Oxford, and I also lived and worked in Schweinfurt, Germany for a summer. I graduated summa cum laude, gave the Valedictorian Address, and was awarded Bellarmine’s prestigious Wilson Wyatt Fellowship of Academic Excellence Award. After teaching English and coaching soccer at Assumption High School in Louisville and being Coordinator of Bellarmine’s Low Ropes Challenge Course, I earned a Full Fellowship at the University of Kentucky, where I earned my Master of Science in Educational Policy Studies with an Emphasis in Student Affairs. Over the years, I served as Assistant Dean/Director of Student Activities at Bellarmine University and in various volunteer roles with my church, DSACK, and the community.

I chose to stay home to nurture our family. My husband Dennis and I have four children. Our son Sam has Down syndrome. In my spare time over the years, I have jumped out of a plane, dabbled in writing and public speaking, and completed the Dublin, Ireland Marathon and numerous half marathons and relays for various charities. I enjoy spending time outdoors with my loved ones hiking, gardening, jogging, cheering at our children’s soccer games, and listening to live music and sitting around a campfire. 

Courtney Elbert

Education and Communications Coordinator

I graduated with a special education degree from Bellarmine University. During my student teaching, I met a boy who forever changed my life. His name is Jack, and he has Down syndrome. Because of him, I knew that I would some day work with children and adults with Down syndrome.

After finishing school, my husband and I moved to Lexington and had our first child. As a stay-at-home mom, I was looking to do something outside of the home and knew instantly that the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky would be a great fit. After volunteering for a year in the Learning Program, I was honored to be offered the position of education coordinator and, later, the communications coordinator. Now, with a family of four, I strive to teach my children about how everyone is different, and that is what makes us so great! I feel so blessed to be part of such an amazing community.

Hana Toupin

Office Coordinator and Magazine Editor

After a lengthy career in the newspaper and publishing business, I came to DSACK with a desire to make a difference. Ever since, I’ve come to know and appreciate the wonderful DSACK community and can’t imagine not being part of it. 

My responsibilities include managing the office, as well as writing and editing the DSACK quarterly magazine and assisting in writing grants. I have degrees from Western Kentucky University in both journalism and education. 

Terri McLean

Administrative Assistant

I have worked at DSACK since completing the We Work! Career Planning Initiative in 2016. I moved to Lexington in 2015 from Camden, Arkansas, where I graduated from Camden Fairview High School. 

I am the administrative assistant with a lot of responsibilities. I love what I do in preparing for meetings, taking notes, and helping create the website. I also help with routine office tasks, represent DSACK at events, take on special projects, and advocate for people with Down syndrome. I work three hours, two days a week. I am so proud of working for DSACK.

Emily Wright

Board of Directors


Katie Gilley

Doctor of philosophy student in school psychology. School psychologist for Mercer County Public Schools.

Jonathan Wright, Treasurer 

Sibling of an individual with Down syndrome. Compliance officer with Colonial Claims.

Jay Castaneda, Secretary

Licensed clinical psychologist. Associate professor of psychology at Georgetown College.

Jonathan Rouse

Attorney at Rouse & Rouse Attorneys, PLLC. 

Dr. Kristopher Cumbermack 

Pediatric cardiologist at University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Anna Bullard

 Social Worker at UK Children's Hospital

Mary Ann Hall

Parent of a child with Down syndrome.

Kelley Nunnelley, Chairperson

Sibling of an individual with Down syndrome. Account executive for Canon Solutions America.

 Margot Schenning

Teacher at the The Lexington School

Matt Shorr 

Parent of a child with Down syndrome. Associate financial advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors.

Laura Yost

Parent of a child with Down syndrome.

Corey Hawes

Pediatric dietitian, adjunct instructor at University of Kentucky