Cornhole tournament aims to support Down syndrome research

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MCCORDSVILLE — An evening of lighthearted recreation at Scarlet Lane Brewing Company on Saturday raised money for Down syndrome research.

Bags for Breakthrough 2018, an inaugural cornhole tournament organized by Mari Kennedy of Fishers Saturday afternoon and evening at the brewery, supported the goals of the LuMind Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to improve the lives of those with Down syndrome.

More than 20 people signed up to compete in the beanbag toss tournament, which included raffles and free beer from the nearby brewing company. Kennedy, whose son, Ryan, 17, was born with Down Syndrome, hopes to boost the organization, which fights for research of potential treatments for people with Down syndrome, including establishing a Down Syndrome Clinical Trial Consortium. The consortium will be focused initially on advancing Alzheimer’s therapies for individuals with Down syndrome, according to the nonprofit organization’s website.

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“I learned a few years ago that Down syndrome research received far less public and private funding than comparable syndromes, so I wanted to get involved to change that,” Kennedy said in a news release. “I have a big backyard cornhole party every summer, so I thought we could turn it into something meaningful for a cause dear to my family.”

Kennedy and her friend and co-chair, Amy Crell, chose LuMind RDS “because the foundation is aiming to enable independence and enrich community engagement for individuals with Down syndrome through high-impact research,” the news release stated.

Kennedy hoped to raise $5,000 with the inaugural round-robin tournament, she said Saturday. She was still finalizing counts as of press time on Monday, but said she expects the total raised to be between $4,000 and $5,000.

She said the event drew not only friends and family, but also cornhole enthusiasts.

Hosting the event was a learning experience, but she plans to host it again next year, she said.

Attendees to the event included friends and family of the Kennedys, including neighbors of Mari’s mother, Peggy Verdun. Verdun and a group of friends from her neighborhood in Fishers donned sun hats and tried their hand at the popular lawn game.

“Mari’s always organizing something, it doesn’t surprise me in the least,” she said. “We’ve got a big family and we try to stand behind one another. Ryan’s the pride of all of our lives.”

Verdun said the young man, who attended the tournament later in the afternoon, has a quick and witty personality and loves to laugh.

“What he has done for our family is amazing,” Verdun said. “He has pulled us all together; he’s the glue that keeps us going.”