Tualatin teen is toast of Broadway with appearance on Times Square Jumbotrons

Keira Morthland’s photo appeared on two Jumbotron screens in Time Square in New York City in August as part of a video created by the National Down Syndrome Society.
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A young Tualatin woman has achieved an accomplishment that usually is reserved for stars of the stage and screen: Keira Morthland’s photo recently appeared in the bright lights of Broadway, or more specifically, on two Jumbotron screens in the middle of Times Square in New York City.

Keira Morthland celebrated  the unique experience of being the toast of Broadway and appearing on two Jumbotron screens while visiting New York City.
Keira Morthland celebrated the unique experience of being the toast of Broadway and appearing on two Jumbotron screens while visiting New York City.

On Aug. 9, the photo of Keira was selected from more than 2,400 entries in the National Down Syndrome Society’s worldwide call for photos. Her photo was part of a one-hour video featuring approximately 500 photos of children, teens and adults with Down syndrome from all 50 states. The purpose of the video, which was supported by ClearChannel Outdoor, was to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in a very visible way.

Keira and her parents, Kristin and Cam Morthland, have lived in Tualatin for 18 years. Keira is a 2023 Tualatin High School graduate, and she has been active in the community in many ways over the years.

“She became a Girl Scout in second grade and over this past summer attended her final Girl Scout meeting with her Troop 45081 that she’s been part of for 11 years,” Kristin said. “She loves performing and being on stage. Keira was a cheerleader for the Tualatin Youth Cheer Program until entering high school and then, due to Covid, she took a few years off until she joined the Tualatin Dance Team last year to round out her high school career performing at various school events.”

Keira was part of the LEAP (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Prevention) Youth Alliance since her freshman year, and in her senior year, she was co-president of the club, which focuses on supporting and promoting youth mental health and substance education and prevention.

“In Keira’s free time, she enjoys horseback riding, biking and working at the Dressed 2 Dream events hosted by Tualatin Together, and she helped pack 350-plus perishable food boxes at Packed with Pride,” Kristin said.

Keira also enjoys hanging out with friends from DSNO (Down Syndrome Network of Oregon), which is a local Down syndrome support group in the area. For more than two decades, DSNO has been a family-led, volunteer-driven organization providing comfort and acceptance for families, friends and individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. The values that guide their mission are advocacy, inclusiveness, equality and respect for life, compassion, comfort, hope and faith.

DSNO, like NDSS, organizes a local Buddy Walk every September to celebrate all people who experience Down syndrome and other differing needs. The 2023 local Buddy Walk was held Sept. 24 at Millennium Park in Lake Oswego.

This year Keira is continuing her education at Portland Community College through the Tigard-Tualatin School District’s transition program and looking for a job. She told her family many times that she wanted to go to college, like her brother, live in the dorms, join a sorority and graduate with a degree that supports her love for music and songwriting. Her goal is to write songs like her idol, Taylor Swift.

The Times Square video presentation kicked off the New York City Buddy Walk® at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. The flagship Buddy Walk has taken place in New York City since 1995 as part of the National Buddy Walk Program. Buddy Walk events are held in communities across the country, as well as in select international locations.

For more information about the local Buddy Walk or to support the organization, please visit DSNO.org.

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