Penny Hardaway leads the way for down syndrome walk

Four years ago I was working as a digital content producer at a local tv station. I was sitting there minding my business one night when all of a sudden, the atmosphere shifted.

That's typically what happens when Jerica Phillips walks into a room.

So when she announced that she was expecting another little girl, there was never any doubt that Jewel Dior wouldn’t fall too far from the tree. But although Jewel is Jerica’s personality twin, there is one big difference.

The spunky two-year-old has Down Syndrome.

DS is a genetic disorder that happens when there are three copies of chromosome 21, instead of two. While people with DS experience various developmental delays, otherwise, they’re exactly like us.

[Enter stage left: Jewel.]

On Sunday, hundreds of people joined the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and made a lap around the Christian Brothers campus for the annual Step Up For Down Syndrome Walk. Also in attendance: University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway and the men’s basketball team!

Sidebar: David Wingette is my absolute favorite!!

While it was a beautiful day to go on a walk, it was also a beautiful reminder that there’s nothing “down” about those who live with Down Syndrome.

For more info about DSAM and the work they do in the community, visit

Nicole HarrisComment