Local dad pushes for Down Syndrome awareness plates

WASHINGTON — For the last 30 years, October has been officially known as Down Syndrome Awareness month. That’s why local father Brian Schwetz has chosen October to launch his effort to get a “special interest” license plate for Virginia approved.

Schwetz and his wife are parents of a 2 1/2-year-old little girl with Down Syndrome. One out of every 700 babies born in the U.S. has Down syndrome, which is associated with an intellectual disability. Babies with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome, also called Trisomy 21.

“We noticed that Maryland already has one and a handful of other states in the country already have one,” Schwetz says. Virginia does not have a license plate for Down syndrome awareness, and that is why he, his wife and a few friends designed one, and now they’re trying to get it approved.

He’s trying to get the word out because in order to move forward, he needs 450 pre-paid applications for the new license plate.

The license plate has a butterfly on it with the words, “spread your wings” and says “Support Down Syndrome Awareness.”

Once the Virginia license plate is approved and they reach the 1,000 mark of active license plates, then the license plate becomes revenue sharing, meaning $15 out of every $25 that the DMV receives for this plate will go to the ARC of North Central Virginia.

This ARC chapter is small and new, but Schwetz says they reach a lot of people. He says the money raised would help the ARC develop generous grant and scholarship programs.

ARC of North Central Virginia is an advocacy organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for Culpepper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties.

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