A special gift welcomes babies born with Down syndrome

Race 321 celebrates World Down Syndrome Day. Everyone is invited to walk or run at the event near West High School on March 18.

Some new parents in East Tennessee receive a present from people they don't even know. It's called a Down Comfort Gift and it comes from the Down Syndrome Awareness Group.

Jamie Reinhardt was 11 weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Travis Remington, got the diagnosis their baby girl would be born with Down syndrome.

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"There were a few tears in the beginning, but then it was well, this is who she is," Jamie said.

When a family in our area gets a diagnosis, the Down Syndrome Awareness Group reaches out with a Down Comfort Gift. It includes lots of information, a handmade blanket and a book.

"They are all personal gifts to the mom to let them know that we are here to love on them and support them," said Angie Holbert, the executive director of DSAG.

She said the Down Comfort Gift includes a poem about the journey of parents with a child with special needs. It's called "Welcome to Holland."

"You grieve the process of not having this child that you expected. You thought you were going to Italy and then you wind up in Holland. You get off the plane and you're like, but I was supposed to be in Italy. You learn to love Holland. You learn that it's just a little bit slower but it's still a great place," Holbert said.

First-time mother Jamie said, "It's not just a gift. It represents a whole community of people who want to love on us and love on our family and our baby and really be there for us and be our team of cheerleaders."

Jamie's baby Coraline is now 4-months-old. She has a heart condition that will require surgery, which is not uncommon for babies with Down syndrome.

It is something that is familiar to the other parents in DSAG.

"I can post any question on Facebook and I get 15 or 20 responses this is what to expect, this is how long you'll be in the hospital, just setting us up to know what the next piece will be," Jamie said.

Angie said, "You've got people in your corner who are going to love on you and love your kid and fight for your kid."

DSAG connects families and offers education and advocacy. A Down Comfort Gift marks the beginning of a relationship.

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"We're a parent support group. That's what we do. We support parents. And so what better way to do that then to reach them at birth and let them know we are here," Angie said.

Jamie looked at her sweet daughter.

"She's just like any other little girl. Every child has struggles and you figure what you need to do to make it happen to overcome them and you do it," she said.

They won't do it alone.

Proceeds from Race 321 benefit the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.

Race 321 includes different routes for different age groups and ability levels.

The event is Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. next to West High School on Sutherland Avenue.

Walk 3.21k, about 2 miles.

Race 3.21k. about 2 miles

Race 3.21 miles (about 5K)

Sign up online or race day.