ACDS is one of our favorite charity partners because we have a relationship that goes back 20 years when John attended their pre-school program. John was thrilled to host Tiana Jones, the ACDS Board President, and Megan Lombardo, the ACDS Director of Development. As part of the visit, John delivered a donation of $1,039.14. John's Crazy Socks has now raised over $30,000 for ACDS.
John attended pre-school at ACDS in the late 1990’s and that required him to ride a school bus from Huntington to Bellmore, Long Island and then Plainview, when the school moved to its current Long Island location. Taking that bus ride contributed to some of the independence and willingness to try new things that John still demonstrates today.
Studies have shown that preschool has a critical impact on child development and overall educational progress. That impact is even more important for children with intellectual disabilities. John was fortunate to attend the ACDS preschool program and that experience contributed to his ability today to lead a business and to speak out as an advocate.
We renewed our relationship with ACDS in early 2017. John and I had opened Johns Crazy Socks in December of 2016 and by January we were hard at work trying to grow the business. We searched for Down syndrome socks that we could sell in our store, but no one made such a sock. John responded like the natural entrepreneur that he is and said, “We should make one.” That led John to design the world's first Down Syndrome Awareness Sock. Now, we have a full line of Down syndrome socks including John’s favorite, the Down Syndrome Superhero Socks.
in keeping with our mission to give back, we wanted to use the sale of those new Down Syndrome Awareness Socks to raise money for organizations that serve people with Down syndrome. We reached out to the National Down Syndrome Society and to ACDS. At the 2017 ACDS gala, Executive Director Michael Smith recounted his reaction when he heard about the donation of money from the sale of the Down syndrome awareness socks.
“Laurie, our development director, came into my office and said, ”These two guys called up and said they want to sell socks and give us money from those socks. We didn’t know these guys and began to try to figure out how this could go wrong. After a few minutes of conversation, we decided to take a chance and give them the go ahead. Two months later, we received our first donation check from John's Crazy Socks and now John is my best friend.”
Indeed, John feels very affectionate towards ACDS. We have made visits back to the school to participate in events and have spoken on panels. Prior to the pandemic, we hosted a work group from ACDS to give their clients some work experience. We look forward to when we can welcome visitors back to our offices so we can host the ACDS work group again.
Like many advocacy and social service organizations, ACDS was founded in 1966 by a group of parents. Today, ACDS thrives with programs and facilities on Long Island and in Westchester, New York. Their programs include:
- Early intervention
- Residential services
- Adult day programs
- Weekend programs for adults
- Financial support services
The organization initially bore the name Association for Children with Down Syndrome but changed the name to ACDS in 2012 because they serve a much broader population including people on the autism spectrum.