CLATONIA, NEB - Thursday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. 

Monte Murkle, of Clatonia, and his daughter Holly caught up with News Channel Nebraska to discuss what the day is all about.

"3-21 is World Down Syndrome Day," Murkle said. "Down Syndrome is the triplicate of the 21st chromosome, so they put it on 3-21 to be advocates for the folks with down syndrome."

In the days leading up to World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, Monte and Holly made several stops at local city meetings to bring awareness, including the Beatrice City Council Meeting and the Saline County Commissioners meeting. 

Advances in knowledge and treatment in down syndrome could also lead to potential advances in areas such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

"About 50% of the folks with down syndrome will end up having some form of dementia or Alzheimer's," Murkle said. "With the research going on, it's been noted that at some point we may find a cure or something to keep it at bay in the general population. With more people in the down syndrome community having it, there's more candidates for research."

Murkle says he's seen noticeable advances in down syndrome.

"When I look back at the research in the last 27 years we've been dealing with down syndrome, I look back at things like heart defects and surgeries, it's not nearly as invasive as it once was. I just think with more candidates having down syndrome, I believe there will be things we can use in the general population."

Several places in southeast Nebraska, such as Mosaic and Beatrice Special Olympics continue to provide opportunities for those with down syndrome.

"The more they're in the community, the more accepted they are and the more we can get rid of things like stereotypes," Murkle said.