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The Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA Launches the Thomas S. Vander Woude Memorial Fund for Down Syndrome Research
Contact: Mark Bradford, Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA, 215-983-8763

PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- On September 8, 2008 Thomas S. Vander Woude gave his life to save his son, Joseph, who had fallen into a septic tank while working on the family farm. Today, thanks to an initial gift from Angels in Disguise, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA has been given the opportunity to memorialize this heroic sacrifice by launching the Thomas S. Vander Woude Memorial Fund for Down Syndrome Research.

Vander Woude, a former Vietnam fighter pilot and retired commercial airline pilot was the proud father of 7 sons. Joseph, or "Josie" as he is called, is Tom and his wife Mary Ellen's youngest son, and he has Down syndrome. Tom Vander Woude's heroic sacrifice stands out as a clear testimony of the depth of love a father can have for a child with a disability. It is also a clear reminder that all human life is of inestimable value and worthy of protection at any cost.

The Jerome Lejeune Foundation was established in 1996 to honor another heroic man. Jerome Lejeune was the researcher that in 1958 discovered Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. His knowledge as a scientist confirmed his belief that every human person is valuable and must be protected from those who would devalue their lives because of their disability or disease.

Dr. Lejeune often said, "we must love the patient and hate the disease," but he knew that many were using the knowledge he had pioneered to attempt to defeat disease by eliminating the patient. His outspoken belief in the value of every human life and his opposition to abortion cost him the friendship of many of his colleagues, his research funding, and some believe a Nobel Prize.

Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA President, Mark Bradford, says that, "there is no better place to memorialize the heroic sacrifice of Thomas Vander Woude than in this special fund that has been created at the Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA through an initial gift of Angels in Disguise. We are certain that donors will respond generously to Mr. Vander Woude's story, and to the testimony of love that remains in his family's memory, and in the memories of all who knew him, or have heard the story of his death. He was a remarkable man, and his sacrifice has now provided a foundation upon which much good will be done to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome."

Tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.lejeuneusa.org, by calling the Foundation office at 267-403-2910, or by sending a check to:

Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA
ATTN: Vander Woude Memorial Fund
6397 Drexel Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19151

The Jerome Lejeune Foundation is the world's oldest and largest private foundation supporting research in Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities. Founded in Paris in 1996 and expanding to the US in 2012, the foundation will invest $6 million this year in research to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities.