Caribou Vikings collect socks ahead of World Down Syndrome Day

4 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Viking basketball and cheerleading teams came together to collect socks and raise money in honor of World Down Syndrome Day during a game on Monday. 


After receiving overwhelming support from the community surrounding the team’s state championship win last year, varsity boys coach Kyle Corrigan challenged the boys to brainstorm a way they could give back to the community. 

The Vikings decided to raise money and awareness for World Down Syndrome Day, which occurs on March 21, recognizing the third copy of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. 

Caribou High School Principal Travis Barnes said the Vikings were inspired by a similar community event last year at the Maine Dance Academy, which Andrea Swanberg initiated as a small gesture for her granddaughter that quickly grew into a large event with nearly 1,000 donations. 

Instead of monetary donations, however, last year’s fundraiser asked community members to donate socks, which would then be arranged so each pair is mismatched. Swanberg said this symbolizes how those with Down syndrome are “more alike than different.”

Viking team captains Parker Deprey and Alex Bouchard got the ball rolling by writing a press release and reaching out to the community in advance of the Jan. 20 game against the Foxcroft Academy Ponies, asking them to bring in either socks or a monetary donation to assist with shipping the mismatched garments. 

“The purpose of the day is not only to raise awareness, but also to promote inclusion and to advocate for those with Down syndrome,” Deprey and Bouchard wrote. “So we ask that the community find their brightest and boldest mismatched socks, come to the games, and cheer on the teams to help support such a wonderful cause.”

Caribou High School athletic director Evan Graves said all the coaches came together to help with the event, and that Swanberg was brought on to help distribute the socks. 

“The boys team kind of took this over,” said Graves during Monday’s game. “They sent out a press release, and we got Foxcroft Academy participating too. People are coming in and they’re excited about it. If we’re not getting socks, we’re getting monetary donations, which are very important as they cover shipping costs.”

Just halfway through the series of games, which began at noon with two junior varsity games followed by two varsity games, ending later that evening, Barnes said four totes for men, women, boys and girls socks were already over halfway full. He said Swanberg was “a little bit overwhelmed by the amount of socks coming in.”

Last year, the socks were sent to several places and organizations both in and out of Aroostook County, including the state house in Augusta. This year, because of the volume of socks received in such a short time, Barnes said the final destination of the socks on March 21 is currently “a work in progress.”

Overall, Graves and Barnes said they were proud to see the teams taking the initiative and raising awareness about Down syndrome. 

“This is something our student athletes can take with them and learn from,” Graves said. “It’s more than just running up and down the court with a basketball. This is giving them good life lessons, and it’s great to see them pay it forward for all the support we’ve received.”

Barnes said that, as an administrator, it gives him pride that his students selected World Down Syndrome Day as a cause.

“It brings great pride not only to this community, but to other schools when they see that our kids are accepting of those ideas, and accepting of others,” he said.