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Bruins alumni skate in Marlborough for Down syndrome

Although the Bruins alumni players aren’t used to losing, especially in a nail-biting overtime finish, Sunday's loss to the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress was still a victory in the end for everyone involved.

The congress’ eighth annual hockey benefit game once again raised over $50,000 for the organization, which promotes acceptance and inclusion for people with Down syndrome.

Bruins legends like Rick Middleton, Bob Sweeney, Reggie Lemelin and Glen Featherstone skated against the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress all-stars to the delight of more than 400 people, many of whom were from families affected by Down syndrome.

“Not only can we raise funds, but we can create awareness of what’s possible for people with Down syndrome,” said Down Syndrome Congress Executive Director Maureen Gallagher.

The group helps the more than 5,000 people with Down syndrome living in Massachusetts to have access to information, services and proper advocacy.

Gallagher said a big part of their mission is to celebrate the lives of those with Down syndrome and help others understand the value of the life of someone with Down syndrome.

“Samantha has never been happier,” said Brian Stevens of Marlborough after he watched his 7-year-old daughter drop the puck.

Stevens, a longtime advocate for Down syndrome funding, said he was happy to have his daughter participate in this event to raise awareness.

“People wonder why they should donate to something that can never be cured,” Stevens said. “But in the last 10 years, the life expectancy of a child diagnosed with Down syndrome doubled. She’s going to grow up.”

Down syndrome self-advocates helped plan the event and many were able to participate in singing the national anthem before the players took the ice.

Megan Briggs, a Down syndrome self-advocate from Westford, admitted that she doesn’t really like the Bruins or hockey, but was happy to be able to participate.

“I love to sing,” Briggs said.

Her mother, Nadine Briggs, said she this is the first year they have attended this event, but they participate in the group's programs regularly.

“They do such a great job and it is great for them to all get together and socialize at events like this,” Briggs said.

Beyond the hockey game, families in attendance also enjoyed a free skate, raffles and auctions, and getting to meet Blades the Bear and the Bruins Ice Girls.



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