LANCASTER – Two-year-old Jordyn has a smile that brings joy to nearly everyone she meets, according to her mom, Crysteena Paez.
“We take her everywhere and she waves and smiles at everyone she sees. Sometimes we get stopped by people who tell us that she just made their day by smiling and waving at them,” Crysteena Paez said.
Jordyn and her smile will bring joy to thousands of people in New York City this weekend. The Lancaster toddler’s photograph was chosen from more than 2,000 photo submissions for a video that will be screened in Times Square this Saturday,
Jordyn’s photograph is one of 220 photographs that will feature in the video, highlighting children, teens and adults with Down syndrome and promoting their achievements and acceptance. The video will play twice on one of the Jumbotron screens in Times Square, starting at 10 a.m., to kick off the National Down Syndrome Society’s Flagship Buddy Walk® in New York City. The Buddy Walk® is the premier advocacy event for Down syndrome in the United States and the world’s most widely recognized public awareness program for the Down syndrome community. [Learn more about the Buddy Walk here.]
“We are all so proud,” Crysteena Paez said. “Now Jordyn can share her smile across the country.”
In explaining how the photograph (shown above) and the contest entry came about, Crysteena Paez said: “This photo was taken back in early May of this year. We wanted to make a trip out to the poppy fields in west Lancaster to get pics of Jordyn with the beautiful poppies. It happened to be a windy morning, so we snapped a few pics and quickly got back in the car. The photos turned out so great that I shared this one in a Facebook message to Buddy Walk. They wrote back suggesting that I enter the photo in the Times Square photo contest. This was the first time I’d ever heard of this contest. We were so excited to hear that her photo was chosen!”
Jordyn was born on Aug. 28, 2012 to Crysteena and Torrey Paez. She was delivered six weeks early at Antelope Valley Hospital.
“We chose to opt out of any genetic testing during my pregnancy, so her diagnosis was a surprise,” Crysteena Paez said. “We weren’t prepared for it but we quickly embraced it.”
After spending 11 days in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, Jordyn emerged healthy, strong and happy, her mother said.
“Now, at 2 years old, she remains healthy and completely full of joy every day. Every morning she wakes up smiling and happy,” Crysteena Paez said. “You just can’t have a bad day with that face smiling at you. Her family is a big part of her life, and she is surrounded by people who love and adore her every day.”
The Paez family won’t be able to make the New York City Buddy Walk this Saturday and will miss seeing Jordyn’s face on the big screen. However, the family will be attending the Anaheim Buddy Walk at Angels Stadium on Nov 2.
Jordyn and her family are in fundraising mode to gather as many donations as possible for the “Jordyn’s Halos” team. To support this effort, click here.