Is Down Syndrome Awareness Day
Is Trisomy 21 (the most common form of Down Syndrome): 3 copies of the 21st chromosome
Is Jeremy’s Birthday (as well as my Dad’s and Ben’s, another FITBuddies’ participant)
Is it a coincidence that Jeremy was born on 3-21, a date that defines his condition, Trisomy 21, and a date that would eventually become Down Syndrome Awareness Day? If I asked Jeremy this question, he would tell me he doesn’t believe in coincidences or “stuff just happening.” He would say, “everything happens for a reason and God has a purpose for everything.” I often walk away from my insightful conversations with Jeremy just smiling. He can be the number 1 jokester but he is also very faithful, very serious and very confident in what he believes in. Jeremy is the perfect role model in the Down Syndrome community. He gives new hope and confidence to parents of young children with Down Syndrome who have the same thoughts as Jeremy’s parents years ago “what will happen when he/she grows up?”
Here’s what happened…
-Jeremy became the first employee with special needs hired at Starbucks and started what is called “the Jeremy Project.”
-Jeremy attends the College of Adaptive Arts where he puts his acting skills to the test. Jeremy would love to star in a movie some day!
-Jeremy is a very healthy individual. He makes himself breakfast every morning (eggs and often bacon or sausage) and helps with lunches and dinners. Snacking is not of interest to him and he could eat the same thing everyday and be perfectly content (which is why once you teach them the right things to eat, it’s super easy!!). And of course, Jeremy loves his workouts and his time at FIT.
-Jeremy is a very social individual and loves all the groups he belongs to such as his church group.
-Jeremy has his own “man cave.” His parents have converted their garage into a space just for Jeremy complete with a pool table, tv, and many other “man” games. Jeremy uses his own money to purchase many of his new toys.
-Jeremy has dreams just like everyone else: he’s always talked about living in his own apartment (although with his new room he may change his mind) and finding that someone special
When Jeremy’s parents received the diagnosis of 3-21 on 3-21 they had many of the same concerns as every other parent but they also remained grounded in what was really important. I think the best thing that Jeremy’s parents did for him was let him be him. From day 1, Jeremy’s parents accepted his weaknesses and focused on highlighting his strengths (they did not waste time focusing on areas he was falling behind in school, etc).
My hope for parents is that they are able to focus on the abilities of their child just like Jeremy’s parents, creating endless possibilities. My hope for the rest of the world is that they wake up to these abilities so that parents no longer feel the need to address the dis-ability.