Every person we know plays a role in our lives—a role that would be absent without them. Imagine if 67% of your peers disappeared. We’d be without mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Sadly, a large percentage of individuals are missing from society. Multiple studies indicate that 67% of children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted; their influence forever lost. We can’t know what effect their lives may have made, but we can look at how men, women and children with Down syndrome are making a positive impact in this world. Today, in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I want to share some of their stories with you.
Chloe Kondrich is an energetic and delightful little girl. Together, Chloe and her father Kurt have become advocates for individuals with Down syndrome. They’ve met with state and federal legislators, visited with celebrities (including Chloe’s favorite band, Big Time Rush) and formed friendships with Major League Baseball stars Sean Casey and Andy LaRoche. Chloe takes to the field herself, thanks to the Miracle League, an organization building baseball fields designed for special needs children. I had the privilege to watch her play and experience her enthusiasm for the game and her camaraderie with the other players. Even as a child, she’s proving that nothing holds her back from fully enjoying life.
Drew Anderson and Toni Alten-Crowe made quite an impression on the students at Loveland High School. Through an in-school mentoring program, these teenagers developed friendships and touched the lives of their fellow students. In a heart-warming ceremony, the two were crowned prom king and queen. They were so excited and happy; you could tell how much this special recognition meant to them. Even the other students had tears in their eyes. Many of the mentor students expressed their affection for Drew and Toni saying, “It’s a blessing knowing you.” and “You’ve changed my life.” A few of the students decided to pursue careers in special education, which shows how Drew and Toni’s influence will continue throughout their lives
Another fascinating teen is Karrie Brown. A junior in high school, she exudes confidence and self esteem. She wanted to be a model and recently her dream came true. Karrie’s mom posted a photo of her on Facebook from the first day of school, wearing one of her favorite outfits from Wet Seal. Friends and family sent messages to catch the attention of the Wet Seal company. A representative responded and challenged Karrie to get 10,000 “likes”—a feat she accomplished in just 24 hours! Wet Seal then flew Karrie to California for a professional modeling shoot. Her story has been publicized worldwide, she has signed a contract with a talent agency and her Facebook page has over 25,000 likes. Karrie is living proof of the beauty that’s within every life.
The headline in the Cincinnati Enquirer read, “Ted joins Reds for a day, but changed team forever.” A huge Reds fan (isn’t everyone?!), Teddy Kremer won the opportunity to be an honorary bat boy for the team. His enthusiasm for the game not only affected the players, but the fans joined in and cheered Teddy on. He was so fun the Reds invited him back to serve as bat boy again. In that game, Teddy reached out and encouraged player, Todd Frazier, after he struck out. His next time at bat, Teddy said, “Hit a home run for me.” Todd said he would, and amazingly, that’s exactly what happened! Teddy was thrilled and ran to greet Frazier at home plate with the crowd erupting in cheers. Teddy now works in Fan Accommodations for the Cincinnati Reds. And the team assures that he’ll have the opportunity to be on the field again as well.
Come to Tim Harris’s restaurant, Tim’s Place, and you won’t only enjoy tasty food, you’re likely to receive one of his trademark hugs too! Tim was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after birth. He says, “A lot of people told my parents that they were very, very sorry. I guess they didn’t know then just how awesome I would turn out to be.” And he certainly did. Tim’s competed in the Special Olympics and won several gold medals. He graduated high school and college. Tim lives on his own and is a successful business owner. He thoroughly enjoys his work and starts the day with his “happy dance” across the restaurant’s parking lot. His motto is from a famous Walt Disney quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” That’s an encouragement to all of us.
A popular quotation says, “Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.” From firsthand experience, I can say that’s very true of individuals with Down syndrome. Lives such as these demonstrate why we must continue to fight the death sentence of abortion.