Ten years ago, Alan Owens had a vision: to help those diagnosed with Down syndrome — the same condition that contributed to his brother, Patrick Xavier’s, death in 1997.
In 2004, Owens created the Patrick Xavier Owens Memorial Foundation, which has raised more than $120,000 for the Association for Children with Down Syndrome, a school in Plainview that Patrick attended.
“It means everything,” Owens, 32, said of the foundation. “[Patrick] was only 5 years old and way too young and special to leave us. We will keep his memory alive forever.”
Today, a series of events to celebrate the foundation’s 10th anniversary and raise money for the school began at 10 a.m. with a three-on-three coed basketball tournament at East Rockaway High School. At 12 p.m. the organization hosted a Disney character party and the events will conclude with a dinner reception at the Coral House in Baldwin at 7 p.m.
The dinner includes a five-hour open bar, comedy show, raffles, giveaways, gift baskets, a blackjack tournament and live entertainment. Tickets are $150 and available at acds.org.
Vincent Santo, director of development and corporate relations for the ACDS, said he is grateful for Owens’ fundraising efforts.
“I know firsthand just how much time and effort is required to make an event like this a success,” Santo said. “The fact that the Patrick Owens fundraiser grows bigger and bigger, year after year, is a testament to Alan's passion and commitment, as well as the loyalty exhibited by his family and friends.”
Santo said the funds received from the Patrick Xavier Memorial Foundation have helped more than 1,000 families cope with a variety of developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism, from early childhood through adulthood.
“This fundraiser is one of the major sources of outside support for ACDS,” Santo said, citing a shortfall of government funding. “We are very fortunate to be able to count on the Owens foundation. It enables us to plan and deliver services on a consistent basis."
Award-winning journalist Brian T. Dessart, an FDNY firefighter, is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician. He can be reached by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @briandessart