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Bayers grateful for support for Down syndrome daughter

Even before their now-nearly three-year-old twin girls were born, Mike and Cyndy Bayer knew they'd be having a child with Down syndrome.

Doctors made them aware a new daughter would experience the condition, Mrs. Bayer said Thursday, indicating the babies were premature, born seven weeks early at a St. Paul hospital. So as soon as Adrienne could have therapy in response to the chromosomal disorder, her caregivers arranged it. The syndrome affects the body, lowering muscle tone and making it harder to walk, she said.

"Adrienne began walking not much later than her twin sister (Kayley)," their mother said, crediting Pierce County's Birth-to-Three program for being involved from the very start. "They came right to our home."

Early this month, the family celebrated the progress their child has made by participating in the 10th annual Buddy Walk in St. Paul, she said. They joined others from Down by the River, a chapter of the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, in a 1.6-mile walk they dedicated to Adrienne.

The walkers solicited pledges and raised almost $500 for the association, Mrs. Bayer said, noting their team numbered 35 members, but there were around 5,000 people present. Over four-and-a-half hours, they followed a route through Como Park, had opportunities to socialize and took advantage of the activities available for children. The weather was warm, yet comfortable.

"It was impressive to see the long line of walkers, all in their matching shirts," she said, referring to t-shirts participants could order when pre-registering.

Adrienne has been subjected to four hours of therapy a week, besides the exercises and activities her parents provide, her mom said. She's had difficulty with her heart, an intestinal problem requiring surgery the day after she was born, the need for tubes in her ears and trouble with her eyes. Nonetheless, she accompanies her twin and their 10-year-old sister, Madeline, for swimming, going to playgrounds, playing with dolls, bicycling, on family trips up north, boating and even to basketball games (following the lead of their mom, who was a guard on the girls' team while a student at Ellsworth High School).

"She's like the other kids," Mrs. Bayer said. For example, while initially there were lots of doctors' appointments, they're now scheduled just once a year, she explained.

The Bayers do have to watch out for their special youngster, however, she said. They must decide which toys to buy her and which activities are best for her, for instance, mindful of strengthening her motor skills.

"We've got to pay attention to her developmental issues," she said.

Read more in the print version of the Herald Oct. 17.