Ninety percent of people diagnosed with Down syndrome are never allowed to be born. This is a staggering statistic that we hear quite often. Lives are struck down before they ever have a chance to fulfill their missions, succeed at their dreams, or even flash a smile at their parents.
This all started when people began to believe that those with Down syndrome are better off never being born. It’s the most judgmental action our society does – deciding that someone’s life isn’t worth living. It’s time we stop believing that lie. These nine individuals with Down syndrome prove that joy and success are attainable to anyone.
- Angela Bachiller. In 2013 in Valladolid, Span, Angela became the first person with Down syndrome ever to be elected councilwoman. She worked for three years in Social Welfare and Family as an administrative assistant, and loves reading and traveling. She hopes to shine a light on the normalcy of life with Down syndrome and make a difference in the lives of those with disabilities.
- Megan McCormick. The first person with Down syndrome to graduate with honors from a technical college, Megan attended Bluegrass Community Technical College. She wants to work in education at the elementary level. She proves that with the right support and resources, people anywhere can reach their goals, Down syndrome or not.
- Tim Harris. Tim is the owner of his own restaurant called Tim’s Place. In high school he was elected homecoming king (by the highest margin of votes in the school’s history), and was named Student of the Year as well. He dreamed of owning a restaurant, so he found jobs in the industry to learn as much as he could. And, according to the Tim’s Place web site, former employer Red Robin says that the store’s revenue went up during Tim’s shifts. He graduated from college with certificates in Food Services, Office Skills, and Restaurant Hosting. In addition, Tim recently created Tim’s Big Heart Foundation to help other people with disabilities start their own businesses.
- Pablo Pineda. Pablo earned a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology and has gone on to be a writer, speaker, and actor. Born in Spain, he is a successful actor in his home country, receiving the Silver Shell award for his acting skills as well as the San Sebastian International Film Festival’s “Concha de Plata” as best actor of 2009 for his lead role in the film Yo Tambien.
- Christian Royal. School never came easy to Christian, but that is just fine because he holds a skill many of us admire. Christian is highly talented at making pottery. He sells his beautiful dishes and bowls online and at an art gallery in South Carolina.
- Bernadette Resha. Bernadette is also an artist who has made a name for herself. She and her work have been featured on television shows, in music videos, commercials, and magazines. In addition to creating beautiful paintings, she is a public speaker and violinist as well.
- Michael Johnson. A painter, Michael is a self-taught Naïve Folk Artist. He has painted more than 500 commissioned portraits and had a solo exhibition at Vanderbilt University in 2001. His art has been featured in posters and on the cover of the American Journal of Public Health.
- Sujeet Desai. A musician, Sujeet graduated from high school with a 4.3 grade average and went on to graduate from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy. He plays seven instruments including the violin, piano, trumpet and saxophone. He has received numerous awards and was even featured in the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine as well as on 20/20 and the Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2006 he married Carolyn Bergeron who also has Down syndrome.
- Melissa Reilly. Melissa has accomplished quite a lot in her life. She has travelled the country as an inspirational speaker. She is a decorated, gold medal winning skier, cycler, and swimmer and she has interned for a state senator. Melissa also teaches reading and math to preschoolers with Down syndrome. She says she loves her life 100%, and she proves that you can have a very fulfilling life with Down syndrome.
The world is a very different place for people with Down syndrome than it was 50 years ago, in both positive and negative ways. People with Down syndrome are no longer automatically placed in group homes, but instead are raised by their parents who nurture their child’s talents and abilities rather than focusing on any disabilities.
However, in this day and age, a person with Down syndrome is lucky to be born at all due to prenatal testing and recommendations from uninformed doctors to abort. Thankfully there are many successful and happy people with Down syndrome sharing their story so that fewer and fewer parents who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis will be pressured into aborting their child.