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Photo courtesy of the Governor's office
Photo courtesy of the Governor's office
Two Queens lawmakers want the state to issue special vanity license plates, similar to this plate for U.S. Army veterans, to raise awareness about Down Syndrome.

Drivers in New York could soon have an easy opportunity to raise money and awareness for Down Syndrome after a bill introduced by Queens representatives recently passed in both the state Senate and Assembly.

The bill sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Mike Miller — whose districts overlap in Glendale and Woodhaven — would foster the creation of a special license plate for New York drivers that want to raise awareness for Down Syndrome. Money raised from the sale of the license plates would also go toward a new Down Syndrome Research Fund.

“I appreciated the support of my legislative colleagues who voted to pass this proposal, which has great potential to increase awareness of Down Syndrome, add to scientific research about this condition, and highlight the many contributions that have been made, and are being made, by people born with Down’s,” Addabbo said in a press release.

According to the bill, the license plates will have the phrase “Down Syndrome Awareness” along with a design that will be approved by the commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles if the bill becomes law. Those who wish to apply for the license plate may do so as soon as the bill becomes law, and there will be an annual service fee of $25 for the plate.

Addabbo and Miller said the idea for the bill originated from a mutual constituent.

“I am very pleased with bill no. A5305-B passing unanimously in the Assembly,” Miller said. “The Department of Motor Vehicles will now offer distinctive license plates for family members whose relatives have Down Syndrome. Anyone who purchases a license plate will help fund research for causes, treatment and prevention.”

Down Syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition and it affects people of all races and socioeconomic status. Every year, about 6,000 children are born with Down Syndrome, or about 1 in 700 babies.

Miller and Addabbo also noted, however, that the life expectancy of those with the condition has increased from 25 years of age in 1983 to 60 years of age today. Many people with Down Syndrome have gone on to live successful lives, such as Spanish City Council member Angela Bachiller, professional Australian model Madeline Stuart and disability rights activist Karen Gaffney.

The bill will now be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo for final consideration.

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