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Mateo photo 1
Mateo Filiciello had the crowd on its feat at Intermediate East, an appropriate celebration of his athleticism on the eve of World Down Syndrome Day.

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Guest speaker and parent Chris Filiciello uses sports to shatter stereotypes for World Down Syndrome Day 2024

March 20, 2024-- Last year Chris Filiciello, a parent of a child with Down syndrome, visited Cedar Grove Elementary on Down Syndrome Day 2023, which is March 21 (representing the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome).

This year, with his son Nicholas having graduated to middle school, Mr. Filiciello was "Rocket ready" to speak to students at Intermediate East on the eve of WDSD 2024. And no doubt his son Mateo was ready, too.

The theme of World Down Syndrome Day this year is "End the Stereotypes." With that in mind, part of Filiciello's talk involved sports, and highlighting his son's Mateo's athletic capabilities whether it was soccer, football, or basketball.

Mateo kicked the ball around with his dad and other students, caught passes from his brother Nicholas, and sunk some baskets, to the sheer delight of Intermediate East students in attendance.

Mateo and dad Chris at Intermediate East

Proud dad Chris Filiciello observes his son Mateo's ball skills.

Thunderous chants of "MA-TAY-O, MA-TAY-O!" rang out throughout the gym every time the youngster with Down syndrome did, well ... anything, really.

By the end of the afternoon assembly, Mateo Filiciello was on the verge of being asked to sign autographs, as he was swarmed by students for high fives. The good vibes were electric, and if there were any stereotypes left to shatter, Intermediate East students seemed to trample all over them on their way to meet the star of the show.

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Mateo Filiciello gets ready to receive a pass from his brother Nicholas.