2020 Gala & Fundraiser

Save the date to celebrate on World Down Syndrome Day - 3.21.20

Thank you to all of our donors and guests for making our 2018 event a huge success.  Please visit our 2018 events page to SEE Photos. 

Preparing for the Future

Having a job is important and fulfilling, but even more so for persons with intellectual disabilities. The satisfaction of a job, financial independence, as well as social interaction provides an important sense of purpose and belonging.  For the second year in a row, Rock the 21 is pleased to fund scholarships at Employment Horizons - a non-profit organization that provides employment, training and job placement services to people with disabilities.

The first scholarship will provide six adults with Down syndrome (DS) an opportunity to participate in a job sampling program that provides participants the opportunity to explore several different careers to find a job that matches their skill set and interests. Career counseling and instruction in job-seeking skills will also be provided.  

The second scholarship, is for a three-month training program for one culinary arts trainee with DS. This person will receive hands-on training in the kitchen. When ready to graduate, Employment Horizons will provide the individual assistance in contacting employers and help with scheduling interviews. 

 

June 17, 2017

Rock Travels to Nicaragua

Rock the 21 was honored to support the Mustard Seed Community (MSC) in Nicaragua - an international, non-profit organization dedicated to caring for individuals with disabilities who have been abandoned, including those with Down syndrome (DS). This year was extra special as our donations were delivered to Nicaragua in person by Rock families, visiting the former home of one of our rockers, Alicia (click here to read Alicia’s adoption story).  Rock families spent a few days meeting with residents at two orphanages, donating much needed supplies, and giving out clothes and shoes.  The week ended with Rock the 21 throwing a pizza and ice cream party to celebrate the residents.  Thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters, Rock the 21 had the ability and privilege of supporting and serving a community that truly impacts individuals with disabilities! To learn more about MSC, click here

 

June 26 - June 30, 2017

Ican bike camp

Rock was honored to sponsor a young girl with Down syndrome (DS) at the 6th annual Hoboken Bike Camp. The camp teaches individuals with disabilities to independently ride a two-wheel bicycle.

Operated in conjunction with Hoboken Family Alliance and iCanBike, a national, not-for-profit organization, and the City of Hoboken, the camp uses specially adapted bikes that use a roller instead of a rear wheel, allowing participants to become more balanced and comfortable in an accelerated time period. An on-site bike technician and floor supervisor helped advance participants throughout a series of levels, and within five days, participants rode independently! This life-changing program fosters inclusion, acceptance and independence, two wheels at a time.

 

 

September 19, 2017

National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk - NYC

Rock the 21 kicked off Down Syndrome Awareness month by joining more than 2,000 walkers at the National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) Buddy Walk.  The walk was started in 1995 by the NDSS as an advocacy and fundraising event, and there are now walks in all parts of the world. Team Rock the 21 participated at the NYC walk in Central Park and a photo of Rocker, Alicia, appeared on the Times Square Jumbotron! Alicia’s photo was selected from thousands of entries in the NDSS worldwide call for photos. The featured photographs highlight children, teens, and adults with DS, reminding the world in a very big way about the contributions and milestones of people with DS. The walk was followed by games, food and fun. Team Rock the 21 was in the top 10 of the event’s donors thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters!

Scholarship granted for Early Intervention Program

To help our youngest community members achieve their fullest potential, Rock the 21 awarded $10,000 to Stepping Stones’ early intervention program scholarship fund. The scholarship will provide 320 hours of therapy for four toddlers with DS who would otherwise not benefit from the program due to financial constraints.

Early intervention, which is provided to children with disabilities prior to their third birthday, is a set of critical services — most often speech, occupational and physical therapy — to help improve gross and fine-motor abilities, language skills, social development and self-help skills.

Stepping Stones’ program, which is held in a state-of-the-art therapy and sensory room, provides an interactive environment for the children to work individually and in small groups to acquire skills such as walking
and balancing, strengthening their pincer grasp, and drinking from a straw, to name just a few. These important skills will be the foundation for a future filled with many successes and milestones. 

 

 

 

 

 

March 21, 2017

MayOR formally recognizes world DOWN SYNDROME DAY  

Mayor Dawn Zimmer issued a proclamation to recognize March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day in the City of Hoboken! Mayor Zimmer honored Rock the 21 for its efforts in creating social awareness and educational opportunities for the City, and supporting individuals with Down syndrome.

 

World Down Syndrome Day Celebration

Each year, Rock the 21 brings individuals with Down syndrome (DS) and their families together to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21st – a date formally recognized by the United Nations to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes DS. On this day, people with DS and those who live and work with them, organize and participate in events to raise public awareness and create a voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with DS. 

Our celebration exceeded expectations!  With more than 50 people in attendance, Rock the 21 hosted a dinner to build a stronger support system in Hudson County.  It served as an opportunity for parents to network and share experiences, and for kids to form friendships and have fun! 

At the event, Rock the 21 honored Hudson Milestones for their work in helping persons with DS. Their mission is to build and maintain a Hudson County-based organization dedicated to the care, support and advancement of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. To support their early intervention program, Rock the 21 donated a variety of educational toys that stimulate the mind and provide sensory input for children ages 0 - 3 years. 

It was a great night meeting new families and celebrating all those who rock that extra chromosome! 

 

January 6, 2017

SIP & SPIN Parent networking event

In partnership with the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Group, Rock the 21 hosted a night of exercising and networking for parents of children with special needs.  The fun workout was followed by conversation, cocktails and healthy snacks!  It was a great way to connect with other parents in our neighborhood. Many thanks to cycle studio, CycleBar, for offering us a free spin class. 

October 8, 2016

Down Syndrome AWARENESS Month Gala

To celebrate individuals with Down syndrome (DS), build awareness of their accomplishments, and raise funds for critical activities, Rock the 21 hosted a Down Syndrome Awareness Gala and Fundraiser at Maritime Parc in Jersey City. More than 300 people joined us for an evening that included fantastic food, a silent auction, raffle baskets, dancing with DJ Lisie, and a photo booth!

 

SUPPORTING PEOPLE WITH DOWN SYNDROME

All of our efforts are done with a mission to build understanding and successful inclusion of persons with DS. Proceeds will be used to fund services, resources and tools, or to support other organizations with this same mission.  

A big thank you to all of our local sponsors who made the event a huge success!

March 21, 2015

World Down Syndrome Day Celebration

To increase awareness and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual with Down syndrome (DS), our first event was a World Down Syndrome Day cocktail reception and fundraiser - Rock the 21 - at the Hyatt Regency on the Hudson, Jersey City, NJ on Saturday, March 21, 2015.  This date signifies the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes DS. On this day, people across the world with DS and those who live and work with them, organize and participate in events to raise public awareness and create a voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well- being of people with DS.

 

Raising Awareness and SuPPorting A cause   

As proud families raising children with DS, the Rock the 21 event not only served as an opportunity to celebrate our children and help raise money for two great organizations, but also served as a critical opportunity to help raise social awareness and educate our friends, family, local businesses and community on what DS is, and that our children are more alike than different. 

All proceeds from the event went directly to the Candle Lighters — a New Jersey-based non-profit and the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).  These non-profit organizations provide a variety of critically important resources and tools — from education and specialized therapies that are so important to individuals with DS — to hosting public awareness events that help build understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with DS.  

Please click here to learn more about the activities and organizations that were supported by the 2015 event and click here to see a listing of some of our local sponsors.

Please click image below to view the video from our 2015 event:

2018

$8K TO SUPPORT STEPPING STONES SCHOOL’S EARLY INTERVENTION SCHOLARSHIP

One program that Rock the 21 is committed to supporting year after year is the Early Intervention Program at Stepping Stones School in Roseland, NJ. The Rock team has experienced first hand how beneficial this program is for young children with Down syndrome (DS) and their families. To that end, we are pleased to announce another contribution to the scholarship fund which will provide critical therapies for toddlers with DS who would otherwise not benefit from the program due to financial constraints.

Early intervention, which is provided to children with disabilities prior to their third birthday, is a set of critical services — most often speech, occupational and physical therapy — to help improve gross and fine-motor abilities, language skills, social development and self-help skills.

Stepping Stones’ program, which is held in a state-of-the-art therapy and sensory room, provides an interactive environment for the children to work individually and in small groups to acquire skills such as walking and balancing, strengthening their pincer grasp, and drinking from a straw. These important skills will be the foundation for a future filled with many successes!

 
 

November 2018

Launching ‘Rock the World’ in a big way  

As part of our Rock the World initiative, Rock the 21 partnered with World Hope’s Enable the Children (ETC) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. ETC is comprised of dedicated local and expatriate staff who provide physical and occupational therapy, care and support services to children living with disabilities. Their services are crucial in a culture that largely misunderstands and undervalues individuals with disabilities. ETC is the only organization that currently provides this level of care in Sierra Leone.

Currently, the staff at ETC travel to visit children in their homes to provide therapy and care, teaching families and caregivers the best way to support their children in their everyday environment. However, the amount of travel limits the amount of children that can be seen. This is the reason Rock the 21 jumped at the opportunity to help ETC implement their own therapy room.

ETC secured a room at the local hospital, and with Rock the 21’s donation, they started transforming the once storage room into an inviting therapy space for children. Thanks to our Rock the 21 supporters, 25 children will now be seen each day, and the impact of this donation will be felt for years to come. Stay tuned for pictures of the finished room, complete with therapy toys and happy children (and parents)!


March 2019

Another 3.21 Is In the bOoks!

Annually, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on March 21st – a date formally recognized by the United Nations to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes DS.  This year, we celebrated 3.21 in style at the Elk’s Club, as we were joined by local families who all share one thing in common…a family member who rocks their 21st chromosome!  This annual event serves as a celebration, an informal support group, and another opportunity for us to strengthen community connections. Food, dancing, games and comradery made for a memorable evening.

Read below to see how some of our supporters from near and far rocked the day away!

  • Caitlyn Marchesani, a Rock supporter, participated in the National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) “virtual’ racing event. The event encouraged participants to run, walk, bike, hike, swim and/or move for 3.21 miles at any time, any place and at any pace to celebrate WDSD and raise awareness for the DS community. Caitlyn and her team donated their proceeds to the NDSS and didn’t let the rain on 3.21 stop them from trekking from “the Bull, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to Barclay’s”!

  • Led by Rachel Bello, Aunt to Rocker Alicia, the Carlstadt NJ Education Association hosted a WDSD rock your crazy socks fundraiser in honor of Rock the 21. By wearing colorful, spirited socks, they educated their fellow teachers and students about DS, and helped spread the message we are all more alike than different.

  • For the second year in a row, employees at Newport Vineyards in Newport, RI, rocked their crazy socks on 3.21! Organized by Rock supporter, Allison Wilke, the team at Newport Vineyards has made celebrating WDSD an annual tradition. The crazy socks sparked conversation and raised awareness among all who visited the Vineyard on 3.21. All proceeds were generously donated to Rock the 21.

  • Finally, Rockin’ Socks events continued west with employees from Kingdom Capital in St. Louis, MO, including Rockin’ Aunt Michelle Hackmann, sporting their most fashionable, rocking socks.

How did you celebrate WDSD? Send us your story at rockthe21ds@gmail.com.

February 2019

CREATING COMMUNITY

Rock the 21 was lead sponsor at Hoboken Special Needs Parents Group’s first Support & Resource Fair. This event was an incredible opportunity for families to discover locally available services for their loved one with special needs. Everything from sports classes and respite care, to doctors and therapists who all focus on persons with special needs were there to communicate resources and best practices to attendees. Throughout the afternoon, there were short presentations by special education professionals and a self-advocate. All those who attended walked away feeling empowered and supported by a connected community.

The highlight of the day for the Rock the 21 team was meeting a family with a six-week-old baby girl with DS. Her parents heard Rock the 21 was going to be in attendance at the fair, and they traveled from another county to get connected, find support, and learn as much as they could about this new journey they had embarked on. With your help, we continue to fulfill our mission in meaningful ways.

January 2019

Meet Adikalie

Adikalie is pictured here with this mother and Rock Family members Chris and Caden High.

Adikalie is pictured here with this mother and Rock Family members Chris and Caden High.

Adikalie, a nine-year-old boy with DS living in Sierra Leone, Africa, is the newest member of our Rock family.  As part of our Rock the World initiative, Rock is sponsoring Adikalie to ensure he receives critical physical and occupational therapies, as well as much-needed financial assistance towards school fees, supplies, and a uniform.

If you’d like to join Rock the 21 in improving the lives of children with DS in Sierra Leone, please consider sponsoring a child. For just $44 a month, you can ensure a child with DS will receive a caseworker, therapeutic services, and specialized equipment. To learn more and view pictures of the children, please visit: https://give.worldhope.org/child-sponsor/down-syndrome-search

March 2019

Rock the 21 honored with Community Award

Over the past two years, Rock the 21 has partnered with Hudson Milestones on several initiatives that support and enhance the quality of life for their clients with Down syndrome (DS) and other intellectual disabilities.

From sponsoring the launch of their innovative after hours program, which provides adults with DS the opportunity to learn and participate in instructor-led dance classes, providing them with a fun activity that enhances their social and dance skills at the same time; to hosting annual DS awareness and celebration events for their clients to attend and participate in; to most recently providing a scholarship for a young woman with DS to attend their Day Habilitation program, ensuring she continues to have a fulfilling and enriched quality of life – Rock the 21 has enjoyed this rewarding partnership that’s helping to increase awareness about the contributions and fun, social activities that persons with DS contribute and participate in.

We were honored to recently attend Hudson Milestones’ Annual Gala, as well as to receive their “Recognizing Excellence – Chandelier Charity Organization of the Year Award”. This award is presented annually to a community volunteer organization that actively supports individuals within Hudson Milestones’ program.

Thank you Hudson Milestones for the recognition! And, thank you to our Rock supporters! Without your help and contributions, meaningful and critical partnerships with organizations like Hudson Milestones, that further promote social awareness and advocacy for individuals with DS and other disabilities, could not happen.



March 2019

SAFETY FIRST: ROCK SUPPORTS FIRST RESPONDERS

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In partnership with the Hoboken Fire Department and Hoboken School District, Rock the 21 helped sponsor an informative workshop for first responders. The full day training for Fire, Police and EMS teams prepared them to work with people who have varying degrees of abilities in the event of an emergency. Parents and caregivers were invited for lunch and the afternoon session which focused on keeping individuals safe at home, school and in the community. There was great energy in the room while best practices were being shared and awareness raised!

April 2019

HELPING CAREGIVERS DEVELOP A NUTRITION PROGRAM THAT ROCKS

Rock the 21 hosted a free webinar led by Trisomy 21 Nutrition Specialist Gail Perrella M.S, C.N.S. The session focused on how nutrition can help our loved ones with DS thrive physically, emotionally and cognitively. Click here for a list of quick nutrition trips. And for all our rockin’ moms, access an informational guide titled, The Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide, by clicking here.

MAY 2019

Storage Room Turned THERAPEUTIC haven for children in Sierra Leone

World's Hope's Enable the Children (ETC) is a team of local and expatriate staff who provide Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, care, and support services to children living with disabilities, including DS, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The staff travel all over Sierra Leone to provide in-home therapy. While this allows families the opportunity to learn at-home care and treatment for their children, the staff can't travel to see everyone weekly. This challenge was happily solved when ETC was finally given permission and access to utilize a room at a local hospital.

With help from Rock the 21, what was once a storage room, full of boxes (and junk!) has been transformed into a welcoming place for families seeking therapy for their children. The room is inviting, colorful, and equipped with therapy tools and toys! It is because of you that Rock the 21 was able to ensure the room was ready for so many children in need of services. Thank you for the way you give!

June 2019

iCan Bike Camp

Rock the 21 was a proud sponsor of the 8th Annual Hoboken Bike Camp which is hosted by the Hoboken Family Alliance and operated in conjunction with iCanBike. The camp teaches individuals with disabilities to ride a two-wheel bicycle independently. This life-changing program fosters inclusion, acceptance and independence, two wheels at a time. iCanBike is a national, not-for-profit organization that has conducted hundreds of camps over the past decade and uses a proven protocol with an 80% success rate. Because of specially adapted bikes that use a roller instead of a rear wheel, participants become more balanced and comfortable in an accelerated time period. An on-site bike technician and floor supervisor help riders advance throughout a series of levels and within five days they are riding independently. Three of our very own rockers attended this year’s camp! A special shout out to all the volunteers who helped make this week a success for the riders - thank you!

JULY 2019

Adult Day Program: Sponsorship

Recent reports indicate there are more than 6 million students diagnosed with a disability, like Down syndrome (DS). The transition for a student with disabilities from high school to college, and later to the workforce can be difficult at best, with limited life skill, higher education, and work preparation programs.

Day Habilitation programs are one such program designed to provide individuals with disabilities opportunities for inclusive activities in their communities, as well as valuable training and therapy for further enhancing communication, and overall self-care and life skills.

Rock the 21 was pleased to sponsor a young adult with DS to attend Hudson Milestone’s Day Habilitation program, which provides meaningful and productive activities. The Day Habilitation Centers are places of individual expression and learning, which will provide Rock the 21’s sponsor recipient with an opportunity to build relationships and further foster their skillsets.

 

July 2019

On their way to becoming Sensory Savvy

Everyone has sensory sensitivities, like fabric preferences or noise level tolerances. For an increasing number of people with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome (DS), overstimulating environments can trigger adverse responses that prevent the individual and group from fully engaging.

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To that end, the ARC of Essex County has been working to find creative ways to help their clients handle stimulation. They launched a campaign to provide individualized “Sensory-to-Go” boxes for those in need. Equipped with manipulative items like koosh balls, play dough and magna tiles, as well as essential oils, exercise balls and bands, and noise cancelling headphones, the ARC found that disruptive behavior diminished and activity participation increased. Rock the 21 proudly sponsored eight customized “Sensory-to-Go” boxes for adults with DS.

Susie*, one of the recipients of the boxes sponsored by Rock the 21, has a dual diagnosis of DS and early onset dementia. She enjoys a structured routine and expressing her creative side through arts and crafts projects. Due to her dementia, Susie has become more set in her ways, resisting transitions, and becoming possessive over shared items. Equipped with her own customized box including a variety of tactile items like magnetic tiles and sensory art supplies, Susie will be able to better cope with the changes associated with her fleeting memory.

Thank you for helping people like Susie! You are all Rockstars!

*Individual's name has been changed.