Human Interest

Man with Down syndrome proves naysayers wrong with a job at UPS

Down syndrome

When many parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome, they’re told not to expect much. Rather than tell them all a person with Down syndrome can accomplish, doctors often speak of all that they are not expected to do. Yet time and time again, people with Down syndrome overcome the obstacles placed before them and accomplish amazing things. Jake Pratt is a perfect example.

Rick Karle, a reporter with WTVM-13, shared how Pratt proved all his doctors wrong. “They said Jake Pratt of Vestavia Hills would never contribute,” Karle said. “They said he’d never make his high school football team. They said he’d never graduate from high school. They said he’d never get his driver’s permit. They said he’d never graduate from college.”

But Pratt has proved all these predictions wrong. He graduated high school, where he played on the football team. He then moved on to graduate from the Clemson University LIFE program. And he’s working two jobs, including a brand-new job at UPS.

“He’s not driving a truck, but he is working up to eight hours a day running packages to our doorsteps,” Karle wrote. “He’s walking some 15,000 steps a day. He’s doing it with a smile. Oh, and that’s in addition to Jake working maintenance at a golf course from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. seven days a week. That big backpack blower? Piece of cake.”

Pratt makes his own lunch the night before, gets his clothes ready, and prepares for the next day. Amy Hyde, his sister, spoke to PEOPLE more about how the job at UPS means so much to him, because all he’s ever wanted was for someone to give him a chance.

READ: Groundbreaking model with Down syndrome graces the digital cover of Allure

“This opportunity to work for UPS means everything to Jake because it is his dream to be able to live independently. He has achieved so much, but none of it would be possible without people embracing him and giving him a chance,” Hyde said. “Jake is so worthy and capable, so it’s just awesome for others to be able to see that,” she continues. “He has done a lot to break barriers and raise awareness that people with Down syndrome can accomplish anything they set their mind to.”

According to Hyde, Pratt’s diagnosis was a surprise, and his family was told that he “would never be a functional member of society.” But Pratt’s parents didn’t listen, and instead embraced him. Hyde called her brother funny, confident, loving, and hardworking.

“[The doctor] said that his impairment would keep him from living any sort of normal life and he might even need to be institutionalized,” she explained. “My family has always embraced the philosophy that Jake is no different from you or I and that there are no limits on what he can accomplish.”

Hyde said that whatever Pratt has put his mind to, he’s been able to accomplish. And in the meantime, he’s making a difference on everyone he meets.

“He wanted to be on the high school football team when some people thought that was impossible, but he did it,” she said. “He wanted to score a touchdown in a game, and he did. He wanted to go to college, and he did. He wanted to get his driver’s permit, and he scored a perfect 100 on the exam. He never meets a stranger and loves everyone so purely. He makes all of our lives better and has taught me more than anyone else I know.”

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