Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Down Syndrome Is Quilt's Design; Pattern Is Based on Karyotype

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Down Syndrome Is Quilt's Design; Pattern Is Based on Karyotype

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg, Times-Union correspondent

In the midnight stillness, Jennifer Ancelin tiptoed into the rooms of her sleeping children.

Audrey, 8, had kicked the covers off again. Her mother tucked them in place, her hand lingering for a moment on her oldest daughter's shoulder.

Little Ava, 5, was next. Bending down to breathe in the scent of her hair, her mother kissed the tiny child's cheek.

Quietly entering the baby's room, she paused at the side of the crib and gazed at the angelic, sleeping face of her infant son Arik.

"Why, God?" she cried into the night. "Why was Arik born with Down syndrome?"

It was as if God heard her that night, remembers Ancelin.

"As I stood there by Arik's crib, an idea just came to me," she said.

For the next hour, she sat in the study of her San Marco home, pouring out the rough draft of a pattern on paper. The next day, Ancelin began creating Arik's Gene Quilt.

The unique quilt is based on the karyotype of a child with Down syndrome. It contains 23 sets of patches, representing the chromosomes each person has. At the bottom left is a group of three matching patches, representing the 21st chromosome that indicates Down syndrome.

The work will be a featured silent auction item Tuesday at the annual Hope Haven Children's Clinic and Family Center's Benefit Concert at the Wilson Center for the Arts at Florida Community College at Jacksonville's South Campus.

"The quilt has enabled me to take this extra chromosome that I've hated and turn it into something beautiful, just as Arik is beautiful," said Ancelin. "It's been a part of my reconciliation -- helping me to accept my wonderful child just as he is."

A self-proclaimed "novice quilter," Ancelin was mentored by her friend, Nancy Robinson, who has years of quilting experience and owns a large collection of quilts, each with a family story attached. "The beauty of quilting," said Ancelin, "is the stories you can weave into the fabric."

Ancelin purposefully chose the traditional log cabin pattern for her gene quilt. The strips represent the rod shape of the chromosomes. …

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