Aunna Shaw

This photo of 5-year-old Aunna Shaw of Townville will be featured on a digital billboard in Times Square for the National Down Syndrome Society’s annual video presentation for Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Aunna Shaw, a 5-year-old from Townville, will be featured on the big screen in the heart of New York City as a part of the National Down Syndrome Society’s annual Times Square video presentation on Saturday.

The video kicks off Down Syndrome Awareness Month on the morning of the society's Buddy Walk, a public awareness program to promote acceptance and inclusion for those with Down syndrome.

The featured photographs in the video highlight children, teens and adults with Down syndrome working, playing and learning alongside friends and family. Shaw's photo was selected from more than 3,000 entries in the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) worldwide call for photos, according to a release from the NDSS.

Approximately 500 photos will appear in the Times Square video. The society opens up entries for the video in February on its website, ndss.org.

Aunna and her family will travel to Manhattan to see her photo light up the square, according to her mother, Rachael Shaw. She had heard of the video and its connection to the Buddy Walk since Aunna was born and had sent Aunna's picture in every year, hoping it would be chosen. The Shaws found out her latest entry was chosen in July.

"We were very excited," Shaw said. "We started planning our trip to New York City right away. (Aunna's) only five. She knows we're going on a trip, and she knows that her picture's going to be on a big TV."

Having never visited New York, the Shaws will do some sightseeing and join the Buddy Walk in Erie instead on Oct. 6. She hoped that others would be inspired by Aunna and those with special needs and to embrace the differences in people around them.

"It's really a cool experience for us," Shaw said. "We love to advocate about Down syndrome and our daughter. This is definitely doing it in a big way.

"It's important because a lot of people don't always see Down syndrome in a positive light. This video really shows how these kids and adults are embracing life and having such a story to tell."

Tyler Dague can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at tdague@meadvilletribune.com.

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