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Batesville family raising Down Syndrome awareness in October

Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome, the most common chromosomal condition that affects children of all races and ethnic groups, is a medical disability but doesn’t prevent people from leading happy lives.

Such is the case of one of the happiest children in Batesville, two-year-old Malachi Cathey. His mother was told the news that her baby was determined by doctors to have Down when he was two weeks old.

“It took mom, dad, and our entire family by surprise,” said his mother, Lakevia Cathey. “But the real surprise has been the overall joy and hope he has given the entire family. It has made me a better person and he shines a light so bright that everyone he comes in contact with simply adores him.”

Malachi’s diagnosis has been the family’s blessing in disguise, Cathey said. “It is because of him that my faith has grown stronger in Christ and his smile has given me a reason to smile, especially during the trying times.”

The happy toddler has endured, and will continue to endure, challenges – developmental delays, feeding difficulties, hearing impairments -but there are many more times of accomplishments and met milestones that have become causes for a greater celebration as the family sees and takes part in what God has done for the child, Cathey said.

October is a month of awareness and fundraising for many causes, but for Malachi’s family the focus this month has been Down Syndrome Awareness.

“Almost every chromosomal enhanced individual that you meet will have a smile so bright that it turns your frown upside down immediately. Whether it be someone as young as Malachi, or even twice his age, their smile is proof that God is in control of whatever it is that you may be faced with and besides you look so much better when you smile,” Cathey said.

Last year mom began to raise awareness within her community by participating in what she found on a social media platform called “21 Random Acts of Kindness.”  Basically, she lit up the town by providing the young and old with a small token of appreciation catered solely to that individual with a card all about Malachi and Down Syndrome.

“It was a challenge for me but the smile that we were able to put on 21 faces in this community kept us going strong all throughout the month of October,” she said.

Cathey has also joined Batesville Intermediate School principal Lashunda Hamilton, challenging all 3rd grade students to write one paragraph focusing on the theme  “Do you know what it means to be kind?”

“Our kids are our future so what better way to start and finish her awareness campaign by touching the small hearts and minds of our children. Not only was this a way to bring awareness to my son and his community, but to other kids with disabilities as well. This initiative provided the students with a real life reason to write,” she said.

Cathey will choose three of the paragraphs that best express what it means to be kind, and award those student writers $21 each. The winners will be announced today, Oct. 21, at BIS.

“Malachi and all others with Down Syndrome are people, too. As with everyone else, each person with Down Syndrome has their own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and abilities. Each individual is affected differently, but it does not define who they are,” she said. “I challenge everyone, not only in this community but whoever reads this article to see them as people first, who just happen to have Down Syndrome.”

Cathey said when she describes people with the condition she always says  “we are more alike than different.”

Cutline: Malachi Cathey, 2, was born with Down Syndrome and has been an inspiration to family and friends in Batesville. (Contributed)