Local girl featured in Times Square video

Summerville resident Kayla Helferich, 9, was selected by the National Down Syndrome Society to be one of 200 people with Down Syndrome featured in the video that precedes the annual New York City Buddy Walk in Central Park. The first time she was chosen was in 2005 with her father Joe Helferich. (Provided)

Last Saturday, the bustling crowds of Times Square were introduced to 9-year-old Kayla Helferich.

Kayla of Summerville was selected this year by the National Down Syndrome Society to be one of 200 people with Down syndrome featured in the video that precedes the annual New York City Buddy Walk in Central Park. The organization received more than 1,000 photographic entries.

“It’s a neat awareness campaign that shows all the beautiful faces of children and adults with Down syndrome,” said Kayla’s mother, Michelle Helferich.

This is the second time Kayla has been selected for the video. The first time was in 2005. Helferich said she has submitted a photo every year since Kayla was born.

The first photo pictured a 3-month-old Kayla in father Joe’s arms. This year’s photo shows her playing softball with the Summerville Miracle League, which she has been doing for two years.

Mrs. Helferich said that Kayla gets very excited when she sees herself in the video and points, saying, “That’s me!”

Kayla attends Fort Dorchester Elementary School and enjoys dancing, arts and crafts and being outdoors.

“There are so many misconceptions about raising a child with Down syndrome. This video puts on the forefront that these are individuals living life and being out in the community,” Helferich said.

The weekends’ events kicked off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. According to NDSS, the video aligns with its mission “to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.”

While the Helferich family has not been able to go to New York to see any of the videos in person or participate in the national Buddy Walk, they do participate in the local Buddy Walk every year.

The next Buddy Walk is 12:30-4:30 p.m. Oct. 7 in Etiwan Park on Daniel Island.

To register online for the local walk go to dsalowcountry.org.

For information about the National Down Syndrome Society or to view the video when it is uploaded in a couple of weeks, go to ndss.org.

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@postandcourier.com.