ESCANABA - Jacob Vader, son of Len and Cindy Vader of Escanaba, will appear in the bright lights of Broadway today as part of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) annual Times Square Video Presentation, which embodies the NDSS mission to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
The photo of Jacob, who has Down syndrome, was selected from over 1,000 entries in the NDSS worldwide call for photos. More than 200 photographs will appear in the video, which will be shown on the News Corporation Sony Screen, located in the heart of Times Square.
Jacob is pictured wearing a red and white Christmas hat.
When Baby Jacob's photo appears on the screen on Times Square throughout the day today, his parents will be right outside on the sidewalk smiling proudly at the image of their little son.
"We'll definitely be there," Cindy said in an interview earlier this week. "And we plan to participate in all kinds of activities that are planned and will also take part in the Buddy Walk in New York."
When Cindy learned about the photo competition, she decided to enter her son's photo.
"I thought, 'Why not?'" she said. "I knew there were over 1,000 entries and they were going to pick 200 and felt he had as good a chance as any of the others."
Cindy submitted the photo online and was notified by email of Jacob's selection.
"I went on line to check to see if there was any response," Cindy said. "When I saw the email, I read it real quick and saw that he was selected. I was so excited, I started screaming."
So apart from her pride in her baby's selection and seeing her own little boy's photo on a giant screen in Time's Square, what other motivation does Cindy have in following through on the challenge?
"Obviously I'm a proud mom," she responded. "But mainly I want to educate people by them seeing just what Down syndrome actually looks like."
The Times Square video presentation kicks off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. The video presentation will be followed by the 18th Annual New York City Buddy Walk in Central Park. This year, Buddy Walk events will be held in more than 250 cities across the country, as well as select international locations, in and around October. For more information about the NDSS Buddy Walk Program, visit www.buddywalk.org or call 800-221-4602.