Rock Your Socks
Today is World Down Syndrome Day.
People with Down syndrome and others around the world have been busy organizing events to raise awareness — advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.
This is a day close to my heart. When I was growing up I spent a lot of time hanging out in my mom’s special education classroom. By the time I started middle school I would walk to her elementary school everyday after my classes ended to help out. I met some amazing kids during this time but none closer to my heart than a little girl named Rachel. We bonded pretty quickly. She didn’t talk much then but nothing could beat the feeling when she would see me, yell my name and come running — launching herself into my arms and giving me the biggest bear hug. We sang together and learned some sign together. We had fun together, there was so much laughter. I saw Rachel almost daily for about 3 years. What an amazing time that was. As I started high school my schedule changed and my mom started working at a new school. It was a difficult transition for me to say goodbye. I missed Rachel but thankfully her mom would send us notes and update us on how she was doing. I remember seeing a picture from her 15th birthday, Rachel had a special party and she was all dressed up like a princess. I can’t describe what I felt, seeing her grown up— happy and looking beautiful.
It didn’t matter to me then or now that Rachel was born with with Down syndrome. She showed me that love can come in many different forms. Rachel left her mark on my heart a long time ago and I like to think that I did the same on her heart all those years ago. She taught me at a young age that everyone deserves the chance to enjoy life, have the same rights and to be included no matter what.
So here’s to you, Rachel. I hope you are just as happy now as you were in the picture from your 15th birthday. I hope the world has treated you with love and celebrates who you are and what you offer to all around you. Here’s to Lucas’ Uncle John who is watching us from heaven — who gave so much light, humor and love during his life. Here’s to more awareness and inclusion.