Thursday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day, which has been celebrated globally since the United Nations first observed it back in 2012. World Down Syndrome Day, rather cleverly, is celebrated on the 21st day of the 3rd month to "signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome."

The official website of World Down Syndrome Day lists five reasons why it's important to recognize the day around the world and celebrate our friends who have Down syndrome.

1) They are denied a quality education.

2) They are denied good healthcare.

3) They are denied the chance to work and make money.

4) They are not allowed the chance to make decisions about their own lives.

5) Their voices are not heard.

Here at WBKR, we believe it's important that everyone be given voice and we honored World Down Syndrome Day with an appearance from Owensboro resident Jeff Rhinerson. Jeff is a well-known 'media' personality in western Kentucky and ambassador for Down syndrome and Puzzle Pieces, a local nonprofit which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. Puzzle Pieces' mission is simple. They aim to connect, empower and include.

With the help of Puzzle Pieces, Jeff has far-exceeded mere inclusion. He has become a staple figure in our community. He hosts a weekly Facebook Live series called Live with Jeff, in which he interviews a variety of local leaders about what's going on in and around Owensboro-Daviess County.  Jeff's studio is located in the offices of Townsquare Media Owensboro.

Jeff also made history in December of 2023 when he became the first person with Down syndrome to be hired as a paid deputy by a sheriff's department in Kentucky. Jeff was sworn in as a Court Security Assistant by Daviess County Judge Executive Charlie Castlen. The story was picked up by ABC News' Danny New and featured on Good Morning America and other ABC affiliates around the country.

READ MORE: Owensboro Man with Down Syndrome Becomes Pioneer in Kentucky Law Enforcement.

Today, Jeff joined me and my co-host Mary-Katherine Maddox on the WBKR morning show. He was our guest DJ for the day.

Mary-Katherine Maddox
Mary-Katherine Maddox

Jeff urges you "to be positive, have faith and be patient!" He says those are they keys to happiness and success.

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To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day and the importance of creating "a single global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome," CLICK HERE!

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