Kolie's photo displayed on Daktronics made video display in Times Square

Courtesy of Daktronics

Editor's note: In late August, guest columnist Jackie Ferrier shared the story of her daughter Kolie being featured on a Times Square video display as part of the National Down Syndrome Society's kick off for their New York City Buddy Walk. Kolie's photo was not the only Redwood Falls connection to the project. Daktronics is the manufacturer of the video display and they provided this story that brings it all together.  

Kolie Ferrier may only stand 3 feet 7 inches from the ground, but those who know her will agree this 7-year-old is larger than life.

That was made even more real for the daughter of Aaron and Jackie Ferrier of Redwood Falls Sept. 18, 2021, when Kolie appeared in the middle of Times Square for all to see large and in living color.

Kolie Ferrier of Redwood Falls was one of 500 faces people saw during a National Down Syndrome Society Times Square video presentation on September 18. The display was built by Daktronics.

Kolie was not physically in New York Sept. 18, but a photo of her, along with those of nearly 500 others, was shown on a giant video display through the efforts of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and its annual Times Square video presentation.

The displays on which the photos appeared was made by Daktronics.

NDSS introduced the Times Square video presentation in 1999. It kicks off the flagship Buddy Walk® which has taken place in New York City since 1995 as part of the National Buddy Walk Program.

According to Misty Adams, NDSS National Buddy Walk program manager, the Times Square video is part of NDSS’ work to raise awareness and promote the acceptance and inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome.

“The event is such a special day and experience for NDSS, for the individuals and families featured and the entire Down syndrome community,” Adams added. “It is an opportunity to let the whole world see the beauty of diversity.”

Kolie was very excited to see her face on TV, said Jackie, adding she has no idea where or even what Times Square is, but just seeing herself on the livestream the family watched was enough to get her jumping around so much no one could get a good picture of her reaction.

What makes the experience for the Ferrier family even more exciting is knowing that the video display that was used in downtown New York that Saturday was built by Daktronics, connecting them with the local community on another level.

The decision to participate in the annual event was an easy one for the Ferriers, because it afforded another opportunity for them to get the word out about Down syndrome.

Advocacy for people who are not “typical” has become a major part of what Jackie does, as she spreads the message that people like Kolie just want to be “included, involved, have a voice, be loved and treated the same.”

Jackie said knowing Daktronics was involved in this way is amazing, adding that is just one more way their family has experienced community and local business support for Kolie and others like her.

Jackie admitted Kolie has impacted more people than she ever could have imagined.

“It is my hope that she is helping teach people that it is OK to be different,” Jackie added.

Adams wants Daktronics’ employees to know that their product is part of something that means a great deal to the Down syndrome community.

“By showing photos of our loved ones on the giant screens of Times Square, we are demonstrating the ways they enrich the lives of their families, communities and our society. We are grateful that Daktronics plays a role in making that happen,” Adams explained.

There were 126,000 views on the Facebook Live of the presentation.

For Tom Quackenbush, plant manager for Daktronics in Redwood Falls, stories like this help create a personal connection to the work being done.

“This event helps us realize the work we do is important,” said Quackenbush, adding he and many others at Daktronics know Kolie and her family. “That just makes the connection even more special.”

After all, the belief that viewing life the same way all the time would make for a boring world not only helps people see their differences, but it also provides a way for companies like Daktronics to celebrate those differences and bring them to life one larger than life display at a time.