People with Down Syndrome Are a Blessing

Bradley Mattes   |   October 10, 2018

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, when we celebrate the lives of more than 250,000 Americans who have this condition.

And I do mean celebrate!

Society often underestimates the significant blessings individuals with Down syndrome add to their families, communities and the nation. From business leaders and athletes to musicians and models –  they contribute so much to life. And they do it with joy and laughter!

You may be surprised at some of the amazing things people with Down syndrome are doing around the world and right here in America.

The fashion industry was once closed off to individuals with Down syndrome. Now, there is increasing acceptance and recognition that women with Down syndrome are beautiful and deserve to be in the spotlight.

Madeline Stuart/ Photo by Erica A. Nichols

Two international models, Madeline Stuart and Marian Avila, are walking down runways and changing hearts and minds as they go.

Madeline is a 22-year-old Australian model who started breaking down barriers in 2015. She was noticed after she posted before-and-after photos of her weight loss on her social media account. She quickly gained over 100,000 followers. Soon, millions of people saw her pictures.

Madeline became the first model with Down syndrome to participate in New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and has walked down runways in China and Dubai. She recently participated in London Fashion Week and will soon be featured at shows in Paris and Istanbul.

Because of Madeline’s courage, Spanish model Marian Avila realized her dream and recently participated in NYFW earlier this month. She was ecstatic as she got to show off two different dresses – a red gown and a peach dress with a flowing cape.

Afterward, she told a translator, “I felt really happy and I really loved the runway. I wanted to show the world that there are no barriers.”

Closer to home, Sujeet Desai is a native of Buffalo, New York and is an internationally-acclaimed musician who plays seven instruments! Sujeet – who goes by “Suj” for short – has played in almost every state and 14 countries. He was recently featured in a commercial for the 2016 Paralympics and at the world-renown Carnegie Hall.

“I love playing for other people, bringing them happiness, inspiring and lots of love,” Sujeet said. And we love hearing you perform Suj. Keep it up!

Photo by Geoffrey Mikol

Geoffrey Mikol is an award-winning nature and landscape photographer who began taking pictures when he was a teenager. In 2016, he opened River Bend Gallery in Galena, Illinois where he displays his work for all to see. I was so impressed, I purchased one of his prints online.

Outside of the arts scene, many people with Down syndrome have started successful businesses. Nolan Stilwell is a Texan who founded the Sweet Heat Jam Company in 2011. According to the company’s website, Nolan and his team make “handcrafted all-natural jams” using “a special blend of fresh chili peppers, fruits and a twist of fine-tuned culinary expertise.” And it looks delicious. (I’m putting Sweet Heat on my Christmas list!)

These are just a few of the many, many stories that demonstrate people with Down syndrome can fulfill their hopes and accomplish their dreams. Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month, President Donald Trump said people with Down syndrome “inspire joy, kindness, and wonder in our families, our workplaces, and our communities.” He’s right.

So it makes me heartsick when I read about a supposed “progressive” country like Iceland that has aborted nearly every unborn baby diagnosed with Down syndrome. These wonderful individuals are made in God’s image like the rest of us and deserve life.

Please visit and check out the loads of resources we have on Down syndrome. And don’t miss episodes of our TV show Facing Life Head-On that feature the amazing accomplishments these individuals have achieved.

Celebrating people with Down syndrome,

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3 thoughts on “People with Down Syndrome Are a Blessing

  1. Thank you for this wonderful article showing how God is using people with Down Syndrome to prove with His power we can do anything. We have an 18 month old with down syndrome and he is our biggest blessing. And we have faith he can accomplish anything he wants!

  2. We are the fortunate parents of 6 children. The youngest Katrina who is 31 and has Down Syndrome is the joy of our family.
    Katrina goes out 5 days a week,with a mentor, to volunteer in the CNY community at 7 different locations. She spreads her love to all those she
    encounters. We are truly blessed to have her in our lives.

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