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“I try to teach Armond to be independent, and as a mother it is hard, but again - got to take each day as it comes and be patient!”

Almetha, Armond's mom

Family is most important.

March 21st is “Down Syndrome Awareness Day,” a day designated by the United Nations to increase global awareness of Down syndrome and to celebrate the accomplishments of the Down syndrome community. As just one representative of our spirited, unique, and multi-faceted community, we introduce you to Armond Maillard.

Twenty-six-year-old Armond loves his family, playing sports, horseback riding, cooking, going to the library, and taking walks with his dog Coco. His loved ones say he has a “contagious” smile. The kind of contagious we all want to attract!

The Maillards are a tight knit family – and Armond’s smile makes no secret about how he values them.

Armond’s family recently moved from New York to Fort Mill, South Carolina. Armond’s mom Almetha says living in Fort Mill has created a lot more opportunities and resources for Armond to enjoy what he loves. Armond lives in a multi-generational household with his mom (Almetha), dad (Omar), his grandparents, and his beloved dog, Coco. Armond has an older sister, Amber, who recently moved out of the family home. Distance doesn’t impact their special bond, though, as the siblings still speak on the phone every day.

“Coming back to South Carolina really has opened more opportunities for him and whatever he wants to try I try my best to do for him,” Armond’s mom, Almetha said.

Armond enjoys living with his grandparents, and is learning how to play pool with his grandfather. Learning to play pool is a challenge for Armond as it takes time and patience – but he doesn’t give up. He gets excited when the ball he wants hit goes in the pocket and his family says the look and excitement on his face is priceless.

Batter Up

Armond loves baseball! He has been playing since 2008 for the Rockhill Miracle league – a program that provides opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to play baseball, regardless of their abilities.

In the off season, Armond also plays basketball with a team called The Stingers. It’s another family affair as his dad Omar acts as an assistant coach for the local team.

Special Olympics Athlete

Special Olympics holds a special place in Armond’s heart. Since his first encounter with the group during his high school days in New York, he has loved being part of the Special Olympics community. He participated in bowling (fun fact: bowling is among the most popular sports in the Special Olympics) and he competed in both the 100–meter dash and long jump.

When Armond went to Wando High School in Charleston, South Carolina they had a program called Buddy Olympics where every year the kids and adults with special needs would participate in sporting events like track and field, kickball, and basketball. Armond and his classmates loved getting awards for placing at this in- school, friendly competition. So when Armond’s family moved to New York, his mom advocated to bring Buddy Olympics to his new school. Both Armond and his mother are very proud that today his NY alma mater still participates in the Buddy Olympics, and offers this meaningful program to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, please consider making a gift to LuMind IDSC so we can continue to build brighter futures for not only Armond but for entire for the Down syndrome community.

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