Every year Billy Fabbri has an annual appointment with his physician, Brian Chicoine, MD, at the Adult Down Syndrome Center, but his appointment in 2002 was different than past checkups. Billy wasn’t asking the routine questions, he was only asking one: “Am I healthy enough to run my first 5K?”
Because adults with Down syndrome often face a number of challenges when it comes to physical activity, Dr. Chicoine was extra thorough in his checkup. But, with over 20 years of experience in working with individuals with Down syndrome, Dr. Chicoine has learned a lot about their needs—one of them being the importance of providing his patients with the same opportunities and care that the general population receives.
Once cleared to run, Dr. Chicoine could see the excitement and determination on Billy’s face. He was so inspired by Billy’s grit to take on the run that he asked to join him. Now, almost 15 years later, the two have run more than 15 races together—and, Billy inspired the Adult Down Syndrome Center’s annual 5k run.
Billy’s mother said in the early days of his running, Billy was the only person with Down syndrome at the starting line. His face had become such a hallmark at local races that you would hear people calling him out by name and cheering him on. As the years went on, others within the Down syndrome community felt empowered to follow suit.
This year, the run is celebrating its fifth anniversary. More than 300 people participate every year, over 70 of them being individuals with Down syndrome.
“I’m so proud of him for doing something significant,” Billy’s mother says. “I never dreamed he would be able to do something like this.”