Nina Fuller couldn't contain herself on Facebook on Wednesday, and no one would expect her to. The founder and President of Evansville-based, S.M.I.L.E. on Down Syndrome excitedly shared the news that Indiana had finally added a new organizational license plate to their growing lineup, one that supported the cause so near and dear to her heart.

Fuller, who's daughter Tess has Down Syndrome, founded the organization in 2001 as a way for families who had children with the condition to talk about their experiences with one another and offer, or receive support. But, she wanted it to be more than a “whoa-is-me–Eeyore-type” organization. They wanted it to be an organization that helped "meet the physical, emotional, spiritual, social and educational needs of people of all ages with Down syndrome, their families and communities," while giving them the opportunity to interact with others like them.

19 years later they are still going strong, but like most, if not all, non-profits, the COVID-19 pandemic put a serious dent in their fundraising efforts, forcing the cancellation or reworking of their annual events such as the Night of Stars & Style, the annual S.M.I.L.E. Mile, and Trucks & Heroes.

While there's still some uncertainty around whether or not those events will be able to return in 2021, the new Down Syndrome Awareness license plates now available in the state Indiana can help fill some of the fundraising gap.

The plates carry a $15 administration fee, as well as an extra $20 group fee. It's the group fee that's key as 50% of that fee for every plate sold in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Spencer, Dubois, Gibson, Pike, Knox, Davies, and Martin counties will go directly to S.M.I.L.E. Nina says the money from the license plate sales will be used for the organization's Family Assistance Program this year.

Plates can be purchased at any BMV branch in one of the aforementioned counties, at a BMV kiosk, or online through the Indiana BMV website.

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