Thursday is World Down Syndrome Day and it also happened to be a day of practice for the Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team ahead of its first-round NCAA tournament game against the No. 10-seed Drake Bulldogs.
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton’s son has Down syndrome, so her Tigers decided to surprise her as they got ready to kick off the postseason in Iowa City, Iowa. For No. 7-seed Missouri’s final practice, the Tigers all showed up in brightly colored socks to show their support.
Down Syndrome Day is one of countless global awareness days and has been recognized by the United Nations since 2012. To celebrate, people are encouraged to wear bright, mismatched socks as part of the “Rock Your Socks” initiative.
The reasons are two-fold. First, socks look a bit like chromosomes and Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the world. More importantly, the mismatched socks are meant to celebrate people’s differences and raise awareness for the common condition.
The date of Down Syndrome Day is even relevant. March 21 signifies the copied 21st chromosome exhibited in people with Down syndrome.
Zach Pingeton, the coach’s son, has been an inspiration for the coach and her team. When Zach was born in 2011, Pingeton decided she wouldn’t let anyone put limits on him and he’s exceeded expectations his whole life.
“I’m learning a lot from him, and that’s good. I need to learn more from him,” Pingeton told the Kansas City Star last year. “This little guy is an incredible gift, and he’s a rock star.”