Mission resident featured in billboard campaign to raise awareness of people with down syndrome

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A new campaign is bringing awareness to people with Down Syndrome thanks to multiple billboards across Hidalgo and Cameron counties.

Viva Lopez is among the nine people chosen to be part of the campaign by the Rio Grande Valley Down Syndrome Association.

“I get all teary-eyed because it's an honor to have her up there, 'cause i didn't ever think I was going to see her in a billboard,” Viva’s mother — Mary Jane Lopez — said. “We already went to all the billboards and took pictures, we're just very proud of her and of all of them that are up there on the billboards, not just Viva. Everyone deserves to be up there."

Doctors told Mary Jane when her daughter was born, Viva would not be able to walk, talk or eat on her own. Twenty-seven years later, Viva is proving the doctors wrong.

Deborah Tomai, president of the Rio Grande Valley Down Syndrome Association, said this is the second year the organization has done the billboard ad campaign.

She hopes the organization will continue the new tradition to continue to raise awareness and acceptance across the spectrum of people with Down Syndrome.

“Down syndrome is a condition that impacts people of every economic status, every race, it's not predetermined and so it's matters to see local families,” Tomai said. “It matters so much for people to see themselves and to see folks that they know."

The billboards will be on display until the end of the month.


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