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Go Ask Mom

Duke Medicine: Glee star visits Raleigh to bring attention to Down syndrome

Posted March 4, 2013
Updated March 5, 2013

Lauren Potter, an actress from the hit television show, Glee, will be at the Crabtree Valley Mall to meet fans from noon to 1 p.m., Sunday. 

Potter, who has Down syndrome, will also be a special guest at Anna’s Angels Gala, an annual black-tie optional fundraiser that raises funds for Down syndrome research at Duke Children’s. The organization has raised nearly $1 million since it started 10 years ago.

Tickets for the gala are available to the public and $115 per person. They include a gourmet dinner, dancing, silent auction and diamond raffle. Tickets can be purchased by going to Anna's Angels' website.

Anna’s Angels was founded by Andrew Merrills and Michelle Pfeiffer Merrills following the birth of their second child in June 2001. Their daughter was born with Down syndrome. Testing at birth also indicated she was at risk for developing acute myeloid leukemia, which she later developed. After eight months of chemotherapy treatment at Duke Children’s, Anna went into remission. She is now cancer free.

Andrew and Michelle were encouraged by Anna’s successful cancer treatment at Duke Children’s and the spirit Anna displayed through it all. The experience taught them about the unique conditions and qualities of Down syndrome and AML, and also revealed to them that limited information and research had been conducted to determine the relationship between the two conditions.

Down syndrome children who develop AML have experienced a higher cure rate than children without Down syndrome, but the reasons are still unknown. Anna’s parents saw this limitation as an opportunity to make a difference in Anna’s future and for children who face similar situations.

“As a family, we chose to share our experience with others to create new opportunities and promote research for individuals with Down syndrome and their loved ones,” says Michelle.

Go to to learn more about Anna's Angels and how this group is making a difference. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips and information every Tuesday.



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