Friday, July 22, 2011

Special Event-Expect Delays at Exit 17

This morning, as I was driving to work, the above sign greeted me as I drove to work.  It was meant for those entering the Mass Pike from the Ted Williams tunnel. In spite of the fact, that I was heading down Rt. 93, the sign gave me pause.  The special event was really not a special event, but a funeral that was going to be held a few hours later in Newton.  There was good reason to expect delays because when a good person or a young person is buried, their funeral attracts many mourners. Today a very good person was buried and she was taken from us too young.Myra Hiatt Kraft, a powerful local philanthropist and wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, died at 68 on July 20 after a battle with cancer. Never simply a boardroom benefactor, she staffed phone banks for fund-raising drives and made persuasive calls when a cause needed the kind of financial boost only the rich can provide. Take a look back at the philanthropist's life and achievements.

Many wonderful things have been said about Myra Hiatt Kraft and as many of us have learned, they were all true. She was a woman devoted to her family and to philanthropy. Many of of her causes were born out of her own experiences. Her father's parents, sisters and brother were exterminated in Nazi concentration camps and she grew up with a devotion to Israel and to Brandeis, from which she later graduated. Her commitment to philanthropy was not limited to Jewish causes, in fact, Boston College, Holy Cross and Catholic Charities received major support from her generosity. And then there were the countless secular causes, most notable the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.
I never met Myra, but I felt her presence. While I loved seeing her cheer loudly for our New England Patriots, it was the knowledge of her many acts of selfless kindness, that made me proud she lived among us. I was not among the mourners at Temple Emannuel in Newton this morning but I join the millions across the globe who will miss her.

Monday, July 18, 2011

From Children's Hospital's Blog

The following was written by Brian Skotko , MD, MPP, a Physician at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program. It’s in response to a feature in GQ magazine that used insensitive language.

Brian Skotko and his sister, Kristin

On July 15, John B. Thompson of GQ magazine slammed Bostonians as the worst dressed in the nation. Evidently, our beloved Beantown is actually a “bad-taste storm sewer” where all the worst fashion ideas come to “stagnate and putrefy.” He further decries, “Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome , where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”

Go ahead, GQ, and mock my blue whale-emblemed Nantucket-red pants. Laugh if you want at the loud argyles that I prefer to wear with my black suit. I don’t even care if you dismiss the sexy pink polka-dotted tie that I like to wear with my blue-checkered shirt in clinic. But, whatever you do, do not mess with my sister.

My sister, Kristin, has Down syndrome, and let me explain what “Style Down Syndrome” really is. “Style Down Syndrome” is smiling when everyone else prefers to frown. It’s spending three summers, in sheer determination, learning to ride a bike because you want the freedom to be like everyone else. It’s singing tunes from Grease at the top of your lungs with your friends. It’s celebrating a third-place victory at a swim meet with as much gusto as the gold medalist.

Style Down Syndrome is strong-willed, persevering, and forgiving—because it has to be.

People with Down syndrome are ridiculed on a daily basis. Although not as obvious as GQ’s sport, children with Down syndrome do not always get invited to birthday parties just because they have Down syndrome. Young adults, freshly minted from high school, sometimes have trouble finding post-secondary opportunities. And, adults with Down syndrome are often the first to be fired when the economy tanks.

All of this comes at a time when people with Down syndrome are achieving previously unimagined successes. They are graduating, working, living and loving within our communities. So, why do people underestimate their abilities? It must be because they do not know someone with Down syndrome. Because, if they did, they would come to appreciate the life lessons that accompany their extra chromosome.

If my friends who are black were mocked, they would not take it. If my friends who are gay were slurred, they would not take it. My 400,000 fellow Americans with Down syndrome have been cheapened, and I will not take it. I invite GQ magazine to introduce its readers to real people with Down syndrome through the My Great Story campaign of the National Down Syndrome Society.